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saving garden from slugs....NEXT year

I have had a real infestation of slugs this year. they have ravished my lettuces, cabbage and cauliflower.

is there anything I can do this fall to prevent this problem next year? I did not have this problem last year.


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  1. I don't know anything about preventive treatment. I think the best thing is to go out every day on snail patrol.

    1. I use a couple of 40# bags of deadline blue pellets every year. Animals won't touch the stuff. I will never get rid of all the snails and slugs but I keep them under control.

      Be sure to go after them in September and October before winter. Will make for a better spring. Also hit them a couple of weeks after a nice application and kill. You need to get the next generation that has hatched. Kill them young before they have thousands of babies. Then keep killing, killing and killing. Application before a rain on a warm summer night is a perfect time, they will all come out to play and you can give them a taste of the blue death!

      1 Reply
      1. re: duck833

        What are "deadline blue pellets"?

      2. Slug and snail pellets produced by Deadline. I get them a local farm supply place. Small blue pellets, last for weeks, animals don't mess with them.

        1 Reply
        1. re: duck833

          You say "animals don't mess with them." But if a cat or dog walked through it, got it on their feet, licked their feet, what then?

        2. I have found that the best slug-and-snail abatement program is to go out with a flashlight every night for a couple of weeks and kill as many of the critters as you can. I did this after my string bean seedlings kept getting chomped by these disgusting gastropods. Very low tech: wearing gardening gloves, I picked them up one by one and tossed them into a small bucket of soapy water. After surprisingly short time there was a noticeable diminution in numbers, and I haven't had any troubles since.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jlafler

            "go out with a flashlight every night for a couple of weeks and kill as many of the critters as you can"

            Amen. That is the only approach that has worked for me to control the snails. Have tried Sluggo, copper, beer, but nothing works better than hand-picking with a flashlight at night.

          2. I would rather not use bait, but I have no choice, to many plants and to many snails. When I run into them I love to toss them into the street, they make a nice crunch when cars run over them.

            1 Reply
            1. I started using iron phosphate (Bayer Snail & Slug Killer Bait) this year, with very good results.


              13 Replies
              1. re: small h

                hmmmm...these were these unfortunate results I was not hoping for.

                anyone know of any ecofriendly options - that doesn't involve me having to hunt them down?

                1. re: cleopatra999

                  I'm a big fan of diatomaceous earth - here's an Organic Gardening article that discusses it and other options.

                  1. re: cleopatra999

                    There's a great product out there called Sluggo. It's iron phosphate and like the Bayer product but was around first I believe. It is not harmful to pets and breaks down well in the garden without leaving any nasty residues behind and is organically certified. Plus it really works. I've been using it for a few years successfully. Some folks think it's expensive but a little goes a long way and a container generally lasts me about 9 months. Garden centre's and nuseries are the places to get it - not the hardware store.


                      1. re: Aromatherapy

                        Third Sluggo, and don't just use it on the garden, the slugs are coming from other places. I hit all my ground cover and along fence lines a couple of times a year and have no problems at all.

                        1. re: Scrapironchef

                          Fourth Sluggo. Actually Sluggo Plus. Kept those nasty buggers from eating my newly sprouted green bean plants last season. I threw on some diatomaceous earth for good measure. That was my go-to for previous years but, as mentioned elsewhere, had to be reapplied often. The Sluggo Plus pellets last a long time.

                    1. re: cleopatra999

                      Iron phosphate is suitable for organic gardening and quite safe. I would categorize it as ecofriendly. What concerns you about this substance?


                      1. re: small h

                        sorry, was not aware of this substance. from the sound of it, it sounded chemical. it is definitely something I will look into. thank you for the suggestion.

                        1. re: cleopatra999

                          You're welcome! Iron phosphate is indeed a chemical. But then, so is water. And salt, which also kills slugs. In past years, I've tried...

                          diatomaceous earth: got wet, stopped working.

                          beer traps: works fine if you don't mind the constant maintenance, and dealing with a lot of dead slugs.

                          copper wire: this is supposed to deter slugs by giving them a little electric shock. it worked about as well as screaming "get out of my garden, you stupid slugs!" (which I also tried).

                          1. re: small h

                            <<diatomaceous earth: got wet, stopped working.>>

                            It does need to be reapplied after rainfall -- this year excepted, not a big issue in my case. The beer trap never worked very well in my garden -- even tried cheap wine -- for all the slugs it *did* kill, it seemed to attract even more.

                            1. re: harrie

                              <It does need to be reapplied after rainfall>

                              My garden is at my weekend place, which makes any method that needs frequent monitoring unworkable. And this year, it's been monsoon season for two straight months.

                              I thought I'd get a little creative with my beer traps, so I buried a half-full bottle up to its neck in the dirt, thinking that might work better than flat trays of beer (less susceptible to flooding in monsoon season). When I dug it up to dispose of what I thought would be a bumper crop of dead slugs, I found a bumper crop of dead slugs and also a dead mouse. Ew, ew, ew.

                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                  Yes, that's 20ish slugs and one mouse that will never darken my door again. I did marvel at the ability of said mouse to compress itself enough to fit through the neck of the bottle. Even though it was, in retrospect, not a smart move.

                  2. I have over 3/4 acre, in perrenials, french kitchen garden, heavy landscaping, lots of boxwood hedges for the little buggers to hide and setup housekeeping.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: duck833

                      Don't know why, but boxwood hedges are one of the favorite motels for snails and slugs.

                    2. The last house I lived in had a large outdoor atrium a huge slug and snail problem. I used pellets for a few years with mixed results, but the best solution was using decollate snails. They are carnivorous snails that eat other slugs and snails, but not your plants. They are small and like to hide, so once they are well established you won't even see them. It took a year or two for them to become established, though, and during that time you cant use snail bait. Just do a google search to find them.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: LAchowman

                        One has to be patient with decollate snails. They take a while to establish and reproduce before they can start interrupting the snail and slug life cycle. We've also found that they still need help. Going out at night with the flashlight and bag is like an AC-130 gunship coming to to give air cover for the friendlies - very effective in keeping the numbers of larger specimens down. And of course, no snail bait of any kind to be used in conjunction with the decollate snails.

                        1. re: LAchowman

                          Decollate snails are the best!!! I used to have a huge problem as well and they took care of it. I would get those 4" long giant ones, ugh!!! I just repleshied my snails after several years and things are back on track!

                        2. i'm surprised no one has mentioned the beer option, it is a bit time consuming, but works...put a low container next to your plants - i dig a little hole so the container sits in it and is level with the ground. fill it up with a bit of (cheap) beer...come back in the morning and the slugs will be taking a bath in it - dump them far from your garden or in the trash as I don't really know if they are dead or just drunk....

                          Another tip i heard from a local extert was to take a bit of dry dogfood, wet it a bit and make a mush of it, put it around the plants and come back in about an hour and they will be feassting on it...

                          Here is her enviornment friendly website if interested...

                          1. I think we are missing the Op's question about what to do now for next year. According to The Organic Gardener's Bible. the best thing one can do to keep down the slug pop. for next year is to really tidy up around the garden, boards, debris, leaf piles, etc. to not give the slugs a place near next years garden to over-winter.

                            21 Replies
                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                              thank you, yes this is what I am thinking. now of course killing them this year will mean less will overwinter. we have made the unfortunate mistake (which due to money cannot be fixed for a while) of using cedar mulch for our walkways. I did not realize this at the time that it becomes a mecca for creepy crawlies.

                              I went and bought something close to sluggo (could not find it/did not try that hard yet) will put it down right away and hope to get some of those buggers. we will tidy the garden more than last fall, one gardener told us to leave all our deadfall on the garden and clean it up in the spring. I think that gave far to many warm spots for the slugs to over winter.

                              1. re: cleopatra999

                                Why use poison in your yard when there is a natural predator to take care of your needs. You can order these on the internet and have them in your yard within the week. They work quickly and no side effects.
                                Please give these guys a try before using things that may harm the enviroment.

                                1. re: JEN10

                                  Please do at least 30 seconds of research before casually throwing the word "poison" around. According to the EPA, "Iron phosphate is a common chemical with a variety of uses, including as a human nutritional supplement and as an ingredient in fertilizer. The substance is not harmful to humans, to other non-target organisms, or to the environment."


                                  1. re: small h

                                    Well of course it's a poison. If it wasn't, then it wouldn't actually kill the slugs.

                                    Point being, the dose makes the poison. And the lifeform in question.

                                    1. re: Shazam

                                      Well, yes. But "poison" is a loaded word, and JEN10 is using it to try to instill fear.

                                      Any slug will tell you that salt is also a poison. Should we start eliminating it from our diets?

                                      1. re: small h

                                        Let me reiterate: The dose makes the poison.

                                        In fact, humans can die from eating too much salt at one sitting.

                                        1. re: Shazam

                                          <In fact, humans can die from eating too much salt at one sitting.>

                                          Humans can also die from ingesting too much water at one sitting. What's your point? That a substance which is harmless to humans in one amount is harmful in another amount? What does that have to do with this thread, which is about killing garden slugs?

                                          1. re: small h

                                            I use beer as bait and I know what drinking too much of that can do to me. Lighten up dudettes.

                                      2. re: Shazam

                                        This is directly from the sited website from small h:

                                        >>As a pesticide active ingredient, iron phosphate is used in controlling snails and slugs on food crops and ornamentals at outdoor and indoor sites. Iron phosphate is a common chemical with a variety of uses, including as a human nutritional supplement and as an ingredient in fertilizer. The substance is not harmful to humans, to other non-target organisms, or to the environment. It is an alternative to a more toxic chemical that has been used for controlling snails and slugs.

                                        Iron phosphate is ubiquitous in nature. It is a solid. It is not volatile and does not readily dissolve in water, which minimizes its dispersal beyond where it is applied. It is applied to soil as part of a pellet that also contains bait to attract snails and slugs. When the pests eat the pellets, the iron phosphate interferes with calcium metabolism in their gut, causing the snails and slugs to stop eating almost immediately. They die three to six days later.<<

                                        If you're a slug or snail, yes - it's deadly. Otherwise, no biggy. Your plants will love iron phosphate, and fauna outside of snails and slugs have no reason to worry.

                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                          "They die three to six days later." Is it agonizing and painful for the slugs? I hope so. Ever get a slug smushed between your foot and your flip flop? Yuuuck.

                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                            Or how about when one or two slugs hides under your flip flops that have been left out on the porch, you slip them on, squish!, and you slip and slide like a sled on snow...

                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                              We have a big pile of bear skat behind the garden crawling w/ slugs. For some reason I cannot stomp them w/ my foot.

                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                Bear skat - that comes from BEARS! Slugs seem pretty innocuous now... I wonder if bears like slugs?

                                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                                  i don't think the Sluggo will work on the bears ;)

                                                  1. re: cleopatra999

                                                    I think it's salt&pepper to Yogi & Crew... :)

                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                      Bears have a cultivated palate; they are the original Chowhounds. They love my blueberry and raspberry patchesm my bird feeders and especially our hummingbird feeders. Such sweetiies.

                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                        A bear broke into the house next door a few years ago and the only food was a box of jello (powder).

                                    2. re: JEN10

                                      What is the natural predator? The only one I know is Khaki Campbell ducks. Eat slugs, bur not your garden and make a fine Thanksgiving meal.

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        Slugs and snails have lots of natural predators, but most of them can't be easily recruited. (I often bless the crows and jays that nest in the redwood trees behind our back fence, but I'm not sure how I'd attract them if they didn't already have a nice overlook on my garden.) However, I think s/he was talking about decollate snails, mentioned above.

                                2. It is illegal to import decollate snails into lots of states including Oregon. Even in California I believe they are restricted to certain counties.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: duck833

                                    I get them at my local nursery in the Los Angeles area. They work very quickly and I haven't seen those gigantic slugs in years.

                                    1. re: JEN10

                                      unfortunately not of use to me in Canada:
                                      "The decollate snail is the only predatory snail commercially available and its availability is restricted to Southern California for fear that' it will become a pest. It is found across the southern United States and along the eastern seaboard as far north as Pennsylvania. The decollate snail provides good control of the brown garden snail, but has much less interest in devouring slugs"

                                      the product I bought (and all products I buy) are environmentally friendly. This is Ferric Phosphate....here is info I found on it:
                                      "Slug and snail damage, especially on young plants can mean serious economic loss for growers. Organic growers have in the past had few, if any, effective products to use for their control. Now ferric phosphate has recently gained organic status from the Organic Farmers and Growers organisation. Its unique mode of action, environmental profile and effectiveness against a range of slug and snail species will make this a first choice for all organic growers. The eventual breakdown components iron and phosphate, will contribute to the crop’s nutrient supply" http://orgprints.org/10232/

                                      please don't jump on my back about organic/environmental gardening....you are barking up the wrong tree...

                                  2. Miller's Milwaukee's Best Premium is the best beer to use for slugs....it is cheap and the slugs cannot resist it! Over a four month period last summer, over 800 (most of them fairly large) slugs met a beery grave. I put the traps...plastic shallow trays filled with beer out...before the sun goes down. The slugs will become active again when the temps reach the upper 40's, low 50's. I plan on getting my beer traps out there as soon as the temperatures rise and stabilize.

                                    1. Take a wide, shallow dish, such as the clay dish used under a flower pot. Set it in the ground so the brim is at ground level. Fill with cheap beer. Empty and refill daily.