Snail and slug season

VermontCathy Posts: 1,821 ✭✭✭✭✭

After an unusually hot and dry May, the weather has cooled off and a lot of rain has fallen in the past week. And suddenly, the snails and slugs have returned.

Every year, my garden gets large numbers of tiny snails smaller than the fingernail on a pinky finger. Slugs are less common, but larger.

This morning I walked through the back garden and squished or hand-picked dozens of snails and one slug. I need to keep after them or they do a lot of damage.

One year I lost most of my winter squash fruit to slugs. I thought the problem was deer or rodents until I went out one morning and found a half-eaten fruit covered in slugs.

I'll put out small aluminum pans of beer, which attracts and drowns slugs and snails. Unfortunately a good rain shower dilutes it so much that it has to be poured out and replaced after every significant rain event.

Hand picking them with gloves and squishing them may produce a "yuck" reaction, but it's very effective as long as I'm out there frequently enough.

How do you handle these pests?



  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 713 ✭✭✭✭

    I wood chip garden and that is one significant downside to it - slugs. I hand pick sometimes but that gets old fast. I have put out traps but I get too busy to keep checking them and cleaning them out and refilling. I really don't enjoy babysitting my garden anyways, it's much more satisfying to forage. However, I like to grow cool stuff as well. So, DE works but ofcourse after rain I have to reapply. Coffee grounds around plants seems to deter them. Honestly, I have not devised a really great method and I basically have no success at a spring garden because of slugs. I guess it's a good thing there are so many greens to forage in spring- but still....

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,272 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I put pans of beer out like you said. I just wait until the rain is over. Sometimes I have to put beer out several days in a row.

    We just got back from vacation, and I saw something has been eating my bean leaves. So, I'm going to get some beer tomorrow.

    This probably won't catch anything but who knows -I don't have any beer on hand so I put out one of those yellow sticky fly traps. I put it down flat where the slugs or whatever is munching seems to be entering my bean patch.

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,356 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have had lots of tiny snails and a few slugs this spring also. They appeared in large quantities after lots of rain. I have tried the beer in a pan. They were not interested in it at all. I have also been picking them off one by one each morning. I have lost a few leaves of lettuce to them but for the most part I have been able to stay on top of it.

  • bookworm
    bookworm Posts: 31 ✭✭✭

    Look at the bright side, with the economy and the price of meat, your slugs & snails may be a great source of protein as a last resort. On the news they showed a segment on using them as food. All we have to overcome is our mental issues with eating them. They are selling crickets and cricket flour now, so guess we have to think positive. I have lots of these critters also, maybe get ducks, but they also eat the green veggies.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,821 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @bookworm I don't think we're quite ready to start eating snails and slugs! Unfortunately we are not in a good position to raise chickens or ducks.

    I'm just glad that our fruits and vegetables are doing well this year after a late start.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,396 admin

    I grew up in coastal BC where we have some pretty big slugs, including the world's second largest slug, the Pacific Banana Slug. Yes, they do look just like bananas that are starting to get black spots. Horrifying creatures, in my opinion.

    One of my chores as a child was to pick slugs. They were disposed of in a bucket of heavily salted water. There were so many it was a daily activity. To this day, I am unable to eat escargot. Everyone assures me that they are delicious but I just can't get past the idea of being related to slugs in any way. I wonder how hungry I would have to get before eating one? Fortunately, there are enough wild edibles (flora and fauna) that I don't think I would ever have to find out.

    The slugs we have in my area are very small in comparison and only seem to go after my lettuce, nothing else.

    I'm afraid I don't have any other solutions than what has been mentioned already. I do use beer traps and that seems to work pretty well. It wouldn't work this year because it has rained almost every day so I would have to be replacing the traps constantly. Beer is too expensive in my province to be using it that frequently.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,272 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I put 4 pans of cheap beer out last night in my cucumbers, squash, and beans because something had been munching on the leaves. Sure enough I caught 10 slugs in one saucer, 0 in one, 6 in the third one, and 9 in a really tiny container that you put ketchup or mayo in when you get it to go. I was shocked to catch so many especially in that tiny container!

    I have my husband bring home whatever beer is the cheapest when he stops for coffee at the convenient store.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,131 ✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2022

    I did try the beer solution a few years back but never had any sucess with it. Either got diluted by the rain or they just weren't interested. When I was a kid, we would grab the saltshaker and go out and sprinkle salt on them. Yes, my Dad told us to. Guess he wasn't informed that it wasn't the best for his garden plants.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,349 admin

    When my plants are still very young, I take a jar filled 1/3 with salt, go after rain, hand pick snails and throw onto the salt. They die immediately. This is my most efficient way. When plants are big enough, I collect slugs very seldom. Strong plants survive. We get more and more tiger slugs. These I keep as they eat red slug eggs. I allow my chicken to have a go at my compost, before I take it to my vegetable beds. They love melolontha larvae which is another hated pest here and, I guess, they do eat slug eggs.

    a very popular slug eater is an Indian runner duck. Some people are even rent them out.

    when plants are very small and young, I put jars over them for the night and then remove in the morning, but, only for very special plants. Otherwise it is too time consuming

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    There's a post by David the Good on the TGN blog that offers three tips for dealing with slugs -- two of them you already do, but maybe some additional insights in this article?

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,282 admin

    Kill the slugs. Eat the snails - they are deliscious!

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,396 admin

    There is an entrepreneur on Vancouver Island with a business called Slugs N Bugs for Lunch. Eco-friendly, he delivers his ducks to your property on a bike with a baby trailer. I believe he now has 6 "employees".

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,821 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I put on gardening gloves and squish the snails in my fingers. Their shells are do thin they offer no resistance. Yucky, but quick and easy.

    We've had a lot of snails so far this year, and now more slugs are starting to appear.

    Slugs can be snipped in half with scissors, or pick them off, drop them on a hard surface, and step on them.

    It's not the most pleasant topic, but it's necessary in order to keep the garden healthy.

    Beer traps work on both slugs and snails, but will never get all of them. And some will be attracted to the traps but not drown in them, so you still need to deal with them by hand.

  • thelinda
    thelinda Posts: 21 ✭✭

    There is a product called Sluggo sold at Home Depot

    • Contains iron phosphate to kill snails and slugs
    • 0.5 - 1 lb. treats up to 1,000 sq. ft.
    • Long-lasting formula remains effective up to 4 weeks, even after rain
    • Works well in cool weather for versatility
    • Use in vegetable gardens up until the day of harvest
    • Safe around pets and wildlife for worry-free application
    • Breaks down into organic fertilizer
    • OMRI listed organic

  • My son in law sent me this: It was from a FB post: Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices of cucumber in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. the chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area. It's worth a try!

  • JebsonThurow
    JebsonThurow Posts: 1 ✭✭✭
    edited July 2022

    I'm out here in the PNW and slugs are plentiful. About ten years ago I went out into the garden and there was a garden snake happily munching away on a slug, I hired him on the spot and told him that he could bring all his friends over that need a job. Now every spring I lay out a piece of black plastic which they love because it warms up nicely and I have small rock piles

  • Lauren
    Lauren Posts: 2 ✭✭✭

    I saw this thread and felt compelled to sign up so that I could share what I found works. I bought tulle fabric at Hobby Lobby 4 yards and spread over baby cantaloupes. I thought it was quail but actually slugs were eating my starts. Now, I have success. Tulle fabric and make sure rock or dirt hold down edges so nothing sneeks under. Once my plants matured I took fabric completely off. Rain goes through fabric so you could leave it on.

  • Kelli Bodey
    Kelli Bodey Posts: 1 ✭✭✭

    Hello. I have had great success with 2 methods not mentioned yet.

    COPPER - slugs and snails will turn right around if they come to any copper. Copper carries a tiny current that zaps the little creeps (slugs and snails). I've heard of people laying pennies down around their entire garden. That's a lot of work & I'm too cheap for that!

    I've taken a copper "Chore Boy" scouring pad and 'unwrapped' it. (DEFINITELY WEAR GLOVES! It is essentially razor wire when unwound.)

    I then lay that out around the garden a few times or around each plant. You can stake this down with pennys or any thing handy - rocks, opened paperclips, etc. Just anchor it lightly somehow, remembering that if you use a rock, the slug can slime itself right on over to its target. I put a few strands of the copper wire together for better wiggley coverage. Alternately, there are copper strips you can buy to lay out along your garden box edges. Same theory. I think that if you didn't want to unwind and drape the scouring pad you could just cut it up and sprinkle over your dirt. The scouring pads are essentially knit in a tube, so if you unrolled the tube and cut into sections, you could slip it around each start or seedling. This works best for upright plants or climbers, as a trailing plant has many points of contact to the ground, necessitating more copper 'attention'.

    HYDROGEN PEROXIDE is my other method!

    Plants love it, slugs dissolve in it! You can buy a spray bottle of it and refill as needed. It's quite inexpensive. This can be sprayed right onto plants or mulch or, preferably, directly onto the buggers themselves.

    I spray the stems/stalks as well as leaves. I've also used it for flea beetles on my eggplant, Japanese beetles on flowers & any other pests. It kills mosquito larva in any standing water, too.

    Bonus - When i plant-sit for my friend, i always spray the soil of her plants before i bring them into my house. Those pesky soil gnats disappear. Her succulents always seem to have a layer of mold on the soil and the hydrogen peroxide kills that while improving the health of the plant. It's great stuff. I've never had any negative issues using either of these methods. I hope this helps someone!

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,396 admin

    Welcome to TGN's forum @margaret_danna_hunter, @JebsonThurow, @laurengamman15 & @Kelli Bodey.

    I look forward to hearing where all of you are from. The introductions section, where you can choose the part of the globe that you are from, can be found at:

  • Peggy Brewster
    Peggy Brewster Posts: 2 ✭✭✭

    Couple of thoughts here... beer works best if you take a plastic container (sour cream/cottage cheese size), slice an opening below the lip edge about1"x 3" across. Set the conatiner into the soil near your plants leaving the opening just above the soil. Pour beer into the bottom 3rd and then snap on the cover. Keeps the rain out, lets slugs in and beer is below the opening so they stay. I get the cheapest malt liquor I can find and it's more "yeasty" to draw them in.

    Another method is agrohomeopathy. Helix Tosta is the snail/slug remedy you make into a water mixture. Find details on Homeopathy Plus website. They have improved the snail remedy to be more effective against slugs.

    DT Earth is good but have to reapply after rain.... which is often in PNW.

  • Peggy Brewster
    Peggy Brewster Posts: 2 ✭✭✭

    Forgot one! Es-car Go - from Garden;s Alive works also.....

    Also - I have not had success with copper - maybe sea air corrodes what makes it effective?

  • water2world
    water2world Posts: 1,046 ✭✭✭✭

    @margaret_danna_hunter Definitely going to try this! cucumbers and pie tins? Sounds different from anything I have ever tried!

  • KelceyReina
    KelceyReina Posts: 1

    What strength hydrogen peroxide is safe in the garden - 3%?

  • rg
    rg Posts: 1

    I went out after sunset when the snails became active and removed every snail I could find, most of them nearly an inch long, and put it in a zip bag, rather than crush them, then put the bag in the garbage. I did this for over a week and eventually the numbers I caught dwindled down from 40 at most to maybe five and I stopped. We have also used food grade diatomaceous earth with success for our pansies against snails, but it has the same problem as beer--it is washed away by the rain or watering.

  • Sheila
    Sheila Posts: 105 ✭✭✭

    Living on Vancouver Island slugs are definitely a problem - they can clean off a cabbage head in a night. I have found that a layer of eggshells around the plants keeps them away but it has to extend about 2-3 inches around the plant so unless you go through a ton of eggs this may not be effective. I also use the plastic container partially buried as Peggy Brewster mentioned and that helps along with hand picking and encouraging predators like toads, frogs and even racoons (they don't seem to bother with our trash so we are good with the ones that hang around here) Next on the agenda is getting the pond up and functional and then ducks!

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,396 admin

    Welcome to the forum @Peggy Brewster, @KelceyReina and @rg. I've left a link a few posts above with a link to the Introductions section so you can tell us a bit about yourselves.

    This discussion certainly has been an interesting one for new members.

    @KelceyReina Yes, you would use 3% peroxide but it still has to be diluted. There are varying ratios on the internet. 1 tsp of peroxide to anything from a cup to a gallon. I've never done this myself but someone else might have the correct dilution or you could ask at a garden centre.

    @Sheila I don't often remember my dreams (or nightmares), but I'm sure my nightmares would be made of slugs. EEEWWW!!!! YUCK!!! Do you have many of the Pacific Banana slugs or are they are bit further south? Have you seen the Slugs N Bugs for Lunch guy? :)

  • Saroj
    Saroj Posts: 5 ✭✭✭

    Hi from Louisiana. Saroj here. Love reading wonderful postings on Forum.

    I am a hobby gardener/ grower. Want to know more about foraging. Hope to join Master Gardener class in future.

    I sure will use some of the tips as we have started seeing slugs after continuous rains.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,210 admin

    Welcome @Saroj! We've got a lot of information on foraging. It's quite an interesting subject. When you have a moment, let us know where you are from in the Introductions section. You will find a link further up in this thread in one of Torey's posts.

    @torey It is fascinating how popular this subject is right now, but for many, the rain is coming and the plants are growing big & tasty, so it's quite relevant.

    I have never had issues with either where I am. I count myself very fortunate.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,481 admin

    @Saroj welcome to the forum. Have a look around & get to know where everything is. You’ll thoroughly enjoy your TGN journey. There are plenty of like minds on here & its a nurturing, inclusive space. Good luck & keep on gardening.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,481 admin

    @Kelli Bodey hi & welcome to the forum. I’m interested in your take on Hydrogen Peroxide for insect/bug control. Last year I had a real problem with flea beetles, especially on eggplants. I tried DM earth, powder & spray. Organic pest control spray, nothing worked & I gave up in the end. So I’m very keen to know about spray ratios etc. thanks in advance.