Slugs are one of the most destructive and frustrating garden pests there is. They hide during the day and come out at night to feast on your garden.
So, your plants will be fine one day, then turned to swiss cheese overnight. It’s never fun to discover that while you were sleeping, these slimy pests were busy destroying your favorite plants!
Controlling garden pests can be difficult. While it is possible to get rid of slugs, you’ll need to be diligent, and find the methods that work the best for you.
Once you figure out how to control slugs, and you stick with it, your problem will eventually go away.
Slugs are sneaky little devils. They are nocturnal, and hide in dark areas, like under leaf debris, plants or mulch during the day. That’s why it can be difficult to get rid of slugs.
They’re excellent hiders, and it’s uncommon to see them out, or even find them during the day. Once the sun goes down, they come out in full force and begin feeding on everything in sight.
Getting rid of slugs in the garden may seem like an impossible task, but it can be done!
They leave a slime trail wherever they go. So, you may notice shiny lines on your plants or on the ground early in the morning. Those are called slug trails, and are a sure sign that slugs are present.
Slugs are slimy, soft bodied, ugly looking things. They actually look a lot like snails without the shell on their backs.
They can be brown, black or gray in color, and different sizes depending on the species. The slugs in my garden are usually about 1″ long, but some types can get much larger than that.
Slime is their defense mechanism. So if you’re unsure that you have slugs, the best way to tell is by touching them (but be warned that it’s gross!). They will slime you if you touch them, which will give you a positive ID.
You may notice that slugs prefer certain plants in your yard. This is partly because of their location, slugs thrive in shady, damp areas of the garden.
Slugs will eat pretty much anything, but they like certain types of plants better than others. Some of their favorites in my gardens are hostas, beans, squash, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, and seedlings.
Slug damage to plants looks like irregular shaped holes, or ragged edges on the leaves. At their worst, slugs can devour mature plants all the way down to nubs.
They can also eat fruits and vegetables that are still on the plants. That damage looks like perfectly rounded holes, almost like someone used a mini-melon baller on them.
As for small plants and seedlings… well, those can be eaten down to just a stem, or disappear completely overnight. Grr!
Hand picking slugs. I like to call this method “slug hunting”. Hand picking slugs is easy and satisfying, as long as you get the timing right. Oh, and be sure to wear disposable gloves so your hands don’t get all slimy (slug slime is really hard to wash off!).
To go slug hunting, grab your flashlight and head out to the garden after the sun goes down. It might take some time to find the slugs. But their slime trails will shine in the light. So follow the slime, and you’re sure to find slugs.
They’re slow moving, and will curl up when you touch them, so they’re easy to grab. To kill slugs, simply drop them into a bucket of soapy water. You could just squish them instead, but I get too grossed out doing that!
I leave them in the bucket over night, then dump the contents into the compost bin in the morning – dead slugs and all. If you don’t have a compost bin, you can dispose of dead slugs in the weeds somewhere, or just toss them into the trash.
You may have heard that slugs love beer. It’s true, they can’t resist it! Why do slugs like beer? They’re attracted to the yeast. Here’s how to make a slug beer trap…
Simply sink a disposable shallow container (or use a slug trap) into the ground so the rim is at soil level, then fill it with fresh beer right before sunset. The slugs will fall into the beer and drown.
To empty the trap, you can simply dump the contents into the compost bin – beer and all. Or just throw the whole trap into the trash if it’s made of a disposable material.
I’ve found that the best beer for slug traps is the cheap stuff, lucky for us! But, unfortunately they like fresh beer. So for the best results, you should empty the traps and fill them with fresh beer daily. It can get a bit spendy.
As I’ve mentioned several times before, slugs like damp, dark spots. So you can create DIY slug traps by making ideal hiding spots for them, and then hand pick them in the morning. Here are a few ideas for how to make a slug trap…
Lay some wet cardboard or wood in an area that has slug problems. Then in the morning you can lift it up to find them hiding underneath.Get some large rocks or bricks, and place them under susceptible plants. The slugs will hide under the damp rocks. Flip the rocks over in the morning to find the hiding slugs.
They love old or rotting fruits and veggies. So use some as bait for catching slugs, and place it under a tent made out of cardboard or other material. You’ll likely find some feeding on your slug trap bait in the morning.