How to Get Rid of Slugs in Your Garden

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To get rid of slugs in your garden, you can try a variety of techniques, like encouraging their natural predators, placing copper rings around delicate plants, and laying beer traps. 
These slimy critters can wreak havoc on your precious garden plants, munching through anything from hosta leaves to tomato plants, saplings, and more. At the same time, slugs are great decomposers, essential for breaking down decaying matter—and a great addition to your compost bin.
While you won’t be able to get rid of every slug in your garden or yard, there are ways you can relocate them, deter them, and (if necessary) kill them. Here with the list of the best ways to get rid of slugs is the super app and home insurance broker, Jerry

How to tell if you have a slug problem

Slugs may look overall squishy and harmless, but don’t underestimate their ability to munch through just about anything precious in your garden! They’ll chow down on leaves, bulbs, potatoes—anything, really.
You’ll encounter the most problems with slugs in the spring as new growth enters your garden in abundance. Slugs are mainly active at night and prefer warm, moist conditions. 
If you’re not sure if you’re dealing with a slug problem, look for:
  • Slimy trails (which will lead back to the slugs’ homes)
  • Irregular holes with smooth edges (their distinctive chewing style)
  • More damage to your plants at night
Just how bad are slugs, though? Slugs are a pretty big nuisance, especially since they target seedlings and other delicate plants. They also reproduce like mad—a mature adult can lay up to 80 eggs at a time up to six times a year!
While you won’t want to (or be able to) get rid of all slugs from your garden or yard, here are some tips for managing how many of these squishy mollusks try to make a meal of your plants.
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How to get rid of slugs in your garden

Getting rid of slugs requires employing multiple techniques throughout the planting season. 

Invite predators in  

One of the easiest ways to lower the slug population is to make it easy for predators to eat them. Slugs have many natural predators, including frogs and toads, birds, and other bugs like worms and beetles.
Encourage these predators to hang around in your garden by researching what they like and adding those elements. For instance, frogs love a still pond; toads love compost heaps and piles of dead leaves; birds like to perch in shrubs and bushes.
Pro Tip To make it easier for predators to get slugs, sprinkle bran (miller’s bran) around your plants. Slugs can’t resist it. They’ll eat it, get bloated, and be unable to move, making them an easy snack. 

Maintain soil conditions—and minimize moisture

Slugs often target weak plants, and keeping your soil healthy can help your plants be as healthy as possible.
You’ll also want to time your watering so that the soil is less wet at night. Try watering in the morning so that the soil’s dried out by the time the slugs come out (they’ll have a harder time getting around). 
Consider using underground irrigation as opposed to overhead sprinklers for this purpose as well. 

Erect barriers

Put mesh at the bottom of pots with young seedlings so slugs can’t come in from beneath. Then, run copper rings or copper tape around your pots and plants. Copper reacts biochemically with a slug’s slime, essentially shocking it and forming an effective barrier. 
You may also want to create a barrier by sprinkling diatomaceous earth (DE) around sensitive plants. It’s poisonous to slugs and many other bugs. 
Slugs can’t maneuver well over rough surfaces, so try adding patches of gravel around plants to keep them away. 

Physically remove them

Of course, you can physically remove slugs from your garden whenever you see them! Come out two hours after dusk and pluck them off, putting them in a compost area (if you want to leave them alive) or in a bucket of soapy water (if you don’t want them so…alive). 
Another way to eliminate slugs on the spot is to spray them with a water-vinegar solution (1 cup of water to a half-cup vinegar). 
Yes, salt will kill your slugs, but it can also harm your plants if you sprinkle too much, so be careful if you’re going to apply salt. 
To lure slugs into a hiding place, try trapping them in citrus. Poke a slug-sized hole in a grapefruit and place it in the corner of the garden, or set up a brick or cinder block you can pick up and relocate
Pro Tip Slugs aren’t just pests; they’re also decomposers important to the local ecosystem for getting rid of dead and decaying material. Try relocating them to your compost bin!

Use chemical methods (slug pellets)

You can purchase ferric (iron) phosphate pellets from your local hardware store or garden shop to kill slugs in your garden. You’ll find it under brand names like Slug Magic and Sluggo. 
In general, you’ll want to use slug pellets sparingly and concentrate around vulnerable plants.
For best results, sprinkle the pellets in the early spring or fall when there are fewer plants to eat in the garden—the slugs will go right for the pellets.

Plant slug-resistant varieties

Planting slug-resistant plants and flowers is one of the best ways to contain slugs in your garden. Strategically place plants they don’t like—namely ones with hairy, fuzzy, slippery, or scented leaves—around the plants they do.
Slugs won’t touch a lot of plants, including lavender, hydrangea, hardy geranium, begonias, catmint, and wormwood.
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Kill the eggs

If you’re dealing with a huge population of slugs, you can always reduce the numbers of the coming generation. Slugs lay their eggs in clumps under rocks or in dark places. The eggs are usually translucent white and a few millimeters wide.
If you find the eggs in your garden soil, cover the area with a tarp on a warm, sunny day and leave it for the day. This will overheat the eggs, killing the developing larvae.
For larger areas, use a hoe or rake to churn the soil and expose the eggs to natural predators. Of course, you can also squish clusters of eggs if you see them. 

Set beer traps

Beer traps are widely used to get rid of slugs in your garden—and they’re a really easy DIY project.
If you don’t want to buy or use up beer for this purpose, you can also use a mixture of water, sugar, and yeast (the yeast smell is what attracts them). Here are the steps:
  • Bury a coffee can, yogurt cup, etc. into the soil so the top is level with the surface
  • Pour in 1-2 inches of beer/liquid and cover with a lid.
  • Cut a slug-sized hole in the lid, but no larger
  • The slugs will be drawn to the smell, fall in, and drown
  • Refill the solution and dump out dead slugs every few days
Pro Tip Don’t place your beer traps too close to plants—the slugs may end up enjoying a leafy meal anyway!

Home insurance and pest removal

While garden slugs usually won’t get inside your home, you may be worried about damage from other pests, whether it’s termites, ants, mice, or more and whether you can get an insurance payout if you end up in a sticky situation. 
It may surprise you that home insurance won’t cover damage from pests or an infestation in most circumstances. This is because most animal damage is considered preventable by insurance providers. They expect you to be on top of your home and call an exterminator before things get out of hand. 

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FAQs

Slugs like to hide in damp, dark places during the day. If they’re not buried in the soil beneath-ground, you can find them under rocks or in compost piles.
You can’t always get rid of slugs permanently, but to kill them in your garden you can spray them with a water-vinegar mix, dump them into a bucket of soapy water, or sprinkle slug pellets that will poison them.

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