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Natural Control of Slugs and Snails

Posted in Garden Advice on June 08, 2020

Here are some Tips for the Natural Control of Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails are common garden pests and can be great foe of gardeners. Seedlings planted one day only to find that the molluscs have eaten them all by the next day.

Slugs and snails are active at night and in damp weather. During the day they hide in dark places under plants or in leaf litter. They do not tolerate dry conditions well and must find places to hide where they will not dry out.

Like all pest control, prevention is better than cure, so consider changing the conditions so that they are not suitable for slugs or snails and use natural repellents. Slugs and snails prefer damp conditions in and amongst leaf litter or dense vegetation so rake out leaf litter and keep wide, clear open areas around susceptible plants.

Molluscicide baits are a self-perpetuating control method; once you've started it is hard to stop. Read here for more information on baits and why they need to be regularly applied.

Here are several natural methods of deterring these molluscs from your vegetable patch, flowerbeds and pots:

  • Traps - Traps can be useful ways to control slugs and snails.
    • Place upturned pots or pieces of board in the affected areas leaving enough space below for the slugs and snails to get underneath. Then regularly check for hiding molluscs and remove them.
    • Dig a hole for a jam jar and set it so that the lip of the jar is at soil surface level. Add a little beer to the jam jar. It will soon fill with slugs and snails which can be removed.
  • Egg shells – Slugs and snails prefer not to move over sharp materials. A band of broken eggshells (or seashells) around a plant or a vegetable patch can deter the molluscs. Note; there cannot be any breaks in the band and it should be at least 5 cm wide all round.
  • Wool - Wool waste is a by-product of the wool manufacturing process. This is turned into pellets that you spread around the plants as a barrier. Again, this barrier has to be unbroken and a minimum of 5 cm wide to be effective. It also needs to be replenished regularly as it breaks down.
  • Copper tape - Copper bands can be fitted around raised beds and pots to keep slugs and snails away.
  • Aliums - Some gardeners believe garlic is useful as a natural pest control, acting as a deterrent to slugs, snails and other pests. Some say chives are effective if the leaves are tied around vulnerable plants.
  • Baits – Baits which use iron phosphate as the toxin are safer and more natural than other baits.

As with most pest control, a combination of these approaches will be most effective at protecting your seedlings and plants from ravenous molluscs.

David Brittain

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