Control Garden Slugs Organically

| March/April 2006

organic pest control, garden slug, control gardening organic pest, beer slug control, crabgrass slug control, caffein slug control


If slugs are a problem in your garden, consider using organic pest control methods to dispose of them.

Remove their habitat by raking up your mulch in spring and composting it. Then, start your garden in open soil and wait until early summer to add a fresh blanket of mulch.

A few years ago, a U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist found that quackgrass contains a substance toxic to slugs. Since then, many backyard slug slayers have experimented with crabgrass cookies, which are made by mixing chopped, dried crabgrass leaves with corn bran, cornstarch and beer. Then, the baits are placed beneath plants, where the slugs eat them and die.

Another option is spraying coffee on plants that are plagued with slugs. Caffeine in any form ? including a few No-Doz tablets mixed with water ? is a slug neurotoxin that will kill these unwanted pests.

When you're down to only a few slugs, you can fall back on the traditional organic control, which is to trap them with beer. Put an inch or so of any beer in a cup, bury it in the garden nearly to the rim and collect your drowned slugs in the morning. Or, put some beer in plastic drink bottles and lay them on their sides in the garden. The slugs will crawl in and drown. Dump them out and start over again every few days.
eileen tersago_1
7/23/2006 12:00:00 AM

I have tried the beer for years but to no avail.The slugs keep getting bigger & bolder. They come up the concrete stairs and wall to my back door.I have started using coffee but no relief yet. Salt shrivels them up but It is too late by the time I see them.HELP!

4/4/2006 12:00:00 AM

I have tried all of the previous mentioned slug tips (except maybe the salt one). (There is nothing more disgusting than drunk, drowned slugs first thing in the morning!) The method I have used for the last several years and the one which is the most consistently effective is....ducks. I live in the Pacific Northwest where slugs thrive but have not had a slug problem for years. I have, from time to time, almost forgotten the existence of slugs...until I go to my duck-less neighbors and have to watch where I step. Of course, I have to watch where I step at my homestead because of the duck droppings but, personally, I would rather avoid duck poop then slimy slugs. One other method I don't remember anyone mentioning, if you can't have ducks, is to use oyster shell. Most of us with chickens (or other poultry) have that on hand, anyway, and I have found that a good layer of that around your plants works well. The slugs attempt to cross over the shells and, in the process, cut up their bodies and die. Plus, I imagine the added calcium is beneficial to the soil.

david brewster
3/12/2006 12:00:00 AM

The best thing to do is utilize all the tips at the same time.We live in the Florida panhandle. The "soil" here is mostly sand, red clay and some composted trees etc. My wife and I have found that by using all the tips and more, we are able to also supress many other pests which travel by land. What we do is this: spread used dry coffee grounds and crushed egg shells over the entire garden and turn it all under using garden tools or a rototiller.Next, plant the garden as you desire. While your plants are acclimating or seeds are growing, continue to add dry coffee grounds and crushed egg shells to the surface. The egg shells turned under are a calcium souce many years down the road and also help break up the soil. The coffee grounds turned under and on the surface are not only a deterant for slugs and other crawly things, but attract earthworms. The earthworms feed upon other nasty organisms we don't need both in the soil and at ground level.The other thing I have done in the past is to spray real beer on the affected plants. Real beer has only a trace about of formaldehyde, thats alright. I would not use any products from Anheiser Busch. That company adds a large amount of formaldehyde to its "beers" as one of their preseratives. Budweiser is the worst to use! It is loaded with formaldehyde.Formaldehyde is commonly used to embalm human bodies and preserve fetal pigs, worms, chickens and all other species of animal, reptile and marine life to be disected in biology lab! Do you want to eat it also?My cousin, Steve Spencer, likes to used common rock salt. He puts a 1 - 2 inch line around his garden. The slugs never get in the garden. Last year we only has 6 slugs! In our area, we grow from the 1st of March to about the 15th of December.David BrewsterAvalon Beach, FL

linda ferris
3/6/2006 12:00:00 AM

I save my egg shells and when I have a bit of a dishfull, I nuke them for about 30 seconds. That causes the shells to be brittle and then I take a can and crush them up into tiny bits. I sprinkle newly planted rows, inbetween rows and it deters them but does not kill them. The birds however will see the egg shells and come down into the raised beds and look around for bugs or eat some of the shell bits. The bluebirds seem to sense when they see the shell pieces that there are bugs to eat and they fly up and down eating most of the day.The payoff is when the blue birds fledge and the babies take their first bath and then get fed a bug, free from a cramped and hot nesting box. The shells also provide some calcium for the soil and plants. It gets used alot when the rhubarb is coming up.

3/3/2006 12:00:00 AM

I've tried beer, compost and all of those things, but the ashes work like nothing else and they are free. Plus help the soil. We can't have many foxes here...and we love the foxes. We had ducks and chickens at our last place...many years ago and they do a great job, so do geese....if you can have them where you live without predetors getting them. We have well built coops and they still got in.

judith cefalas
3/3/2006 12:00:00 AM

Better yet, have some chickens who will eat them with relish and use the protein to produce luscious eggs! Ducks adore them too but tend to make more of a mess.

margalo ashley-farrand
3/3/2006 12:00:00 AM

I use old coffee grounds for plants. The roses really respond. I have put them in the veggie garden, too. Should be a good killer for the pesky slugs.

rich bard
3/3/2006 12:00:00 AM

In response to RSpencer's question about slugs, I live in downeast Maine and I had plenty last year. I had a new garden and I didn't find any slugs in the veggies, thankfully, but they were thick around the compost pile. I haven't lived here long enough to comment on whether there were more or less than usual, but I sure hope there weren't a lot more in the past! Also, I never saw my chickens eat a single slug. I tried everything short of demonstrating the technique myself, but they weren't interested. I hope they catch on this year...

3/3/2006 12:00:00 AM

I have used beer with great success for many years on slugs. just place beer cans with about two inches of beer around your garden at places with the most slug damage. with this comment i would like to ask if anyone else has noticed a decline in the number of slugs? i live in central maine, and the last couple of years i have not had to use any slug prevention. i wonder if it is due to environmental pollution, acid rain, ect.?

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