Australian native slugs are an important part of the ecology, and not a problem in our southern Aussie gardens. The interlopers though…grrr 👎 Folks who visit the D&B garden ask mostly the same questions, and one of them in Spring is always ‘How on earth do you control slugs?’ So, here are all the things we have tried with success. Some may work for you.
🐌 A chore, not a resort
Slugs like it moist and cool, but surrounded by warm new growth.. like an apartment next to a cafe 🙄. Organics are good, but if your garden beds sprawl about with lots of organic debris, and full green beds that meld into each other, then whilst lovely, expect to be in a full time battle with the sluglords. Here are a few things we do to make living here a chore for slugs, not a resort:
- Regular cleanups that reduce slug breeding sites, moving old pots, stakes and rubbish away from where the veg grows.
- Good airflow helps make your veg just that little but more work for slugs – resist overcrowding (esp. thinning from seed), training plants upwards, removing lowest leaves on Brassicas and cucurbits, and Zucchinis growing vertically
- We trench, but if you have worm farms or compost, they are best kept away from beds.
- Collecting snails at night is very effective (we have gifted our children a headtorch and bucket when they were young, and paid them to fill it. Good fun and works well, though gets more expensive as they get older -LoL, note – works for snails but not for slugs. Doesn’t seem to dent slug numbers at all.
- Don’t squish or step on slugs n snails, as they may still expel mature eggs to hatch. Instead, drop the blighters into hot water to feed to chooks or ducks, or into soapy water to kill to trench. That takes care of the eggs too.
- We don’t bother with sprinkling ash around because it only works when totally dry, which is rare here in Spring. Coffee grounds work well, but caffeine is bad for dogs too, so no good here.
🐌 Collars Up
We have not found reliable success with some of the commonly suggested ‘guards’ that you read about – be that copper tapes, sawdust, shell grit or stones.
However, using taller plastic bottomless pots as collars has been helpful, in conjunction with other attentive tactics.
🌱Take used standard size black plastic pots and use secteurs to cut the bottom out, making a tall sleeve/collar.
🌱Place over your seedlings, pushing down into the soil by at least an inch or so, which also acts as a watering conduit – double handy.
You may be wondering what those white PVC pipes are? That’s a story for another time, but think ‘deep watering’ 💦👀
🐌 Trap ’em
We have used each of these, depending on the site, the weather, and our resources at the time. Preferring not to buy stuff, it really comes down to what is available in the garden in the moment, and let’s face it, you are unlikely to run out of slugs to try different methods out 😅.
Clay saucer, filled with water, nestled on the earth will attract slugs to settle underneath. They can be collected from there regularly. That said, if you haven’t the time to check every day, then what you’ve made is a comfy slug hotel, which clearly is not advised. 😆
We don’t have plastic bottles here anymore, but if you do have access, this method makes a nice lure trap that you can empty and reuse. Slugs go in after the lure, and find it hard to get out. Boom.
As for the lure, dry pellets aren’t used at our place, but if you want to go that way, this method means they are less likely to go moldy, less accessible to other animals, and you don’t need as many. See below for more about pellets.
A glass jar buried to near top, with a rain cover to keep the lure undiluted, and keep temperature slug-friendly near the trap. The liquid lure is yeast-based. Beer, watered down vegemite, or a yeast/sugar/flour/water mix. There are heaps of recipes online if you choose this method. Search ‘slug yeast trap’. You do need to check and empty these every three or so days, otherwise the yeasty dead slug mix will mold and turn yucko.
🐌 A warning about lures.
Our yeasty slugmeth – yeast sugar and flour this year but we also often use vegemite – whatever we have and dont have to buy.
The whole point of a lure is to ATTRACT slugs. They aren’t a substitute for paying regular attention to your garden beds… think about it – if you lure slugs in, but don’t check, renew and reset traps often, then they are actually just slug resorts, not traps.
There are also several different pest species of slug, so some methods may work whilst others… meh. Try out a few things and see what works for you.
My current SlugMeth trap in action with an ad hoc rain cover.
🐌 Nuke ’em
If your mind goes straight to snail pellets (and we do use them in some circumstances), then THE COLOUR OF PELLETS is important.
The two most common active ingredients in snail baits are metaldehyde (eg.Defender, Hortico) – green pellets, and methiocarb (eg.Baysol, no longer sold by Yates but might still be old stock around) – blue pellets; both are highly toxic. We don’t use these at all. In fact, we feel they should be banned in Australia.
The third type of snail bait found in Australia is one that contains iron-EDTA (eg. Multiguard, Yates) – red pellets, that whilst still toxic to animals if ingested, is not near so nasty.
For more about snail bait and pets, read HERE
One final point to remember is that slugs do the most damage where plants are weak to begin with. If you plant to the season, space them well, grow them strong and thin out weaklings, then their cell walls are stronger and they will withstand attack much better before being overrun completely.
Look wide; grow well, folks 🌿