Eleven Ways to Get Rid of Slugs and Snails
1: In permaculture we say, “Got too many snails? You don’t have enough ducks.” Slugs and snails are great food for ducks and chickens, much better than the processed food at most feed stores. The ducks and chickens are all over them in seconds. I personally am very fond of ducks, and good mannered ducks can come into my garden anytime and look for snails and slugs. Chickens are interesting too. I have been told they have a language of 100 sounds, and I imitate their language back to them. I like to let the chickens in the garden in the late afternoon. They go for the slugs, snails and bugs, but are ready to leave for the coop at dusk before they dig up the garden.
2: Beer traps work great for catching slugs. Place a saucer of cheap beer on the ground. The slugs are attracted to the odor of the beer, crawl in for a drink, and drown. Do several times, and soon all the slugs will be gone. Don’t let the beer become diluted with overhead sprinklers or rain.
3: Non-toxic, food grade Diatomaceous Earth (Insect Dust) is very effective for slugs. Diatomaceous Earth is fossilized shells of tiny water-dwelling organisms. When ground up, they have microscopically fine, sharp edges. It is applied by sprinkling around garden beds or individual plants, or mixed with water to make a foliar spray. It is a fine powdery dust and can be irritating to the lungs and eyes, so read the application directions. Diatomaceous earth is less effective when wet, so use it during our dry Mediterranean summers. Don’t buy the D.E. used in swimming pools. Non toxic food grade D.E. is available locally and by mail order at Peaceful Valley.
4: Set half an orange or grapefruit rind round side up or overturned flowerpot or a board on the ground in the garden. Wet it good, and leave it overnight. Slugs gather underneath. This can be a hit-or-miss method, but it sometimes works really well.
5: Encourage slug predators like birds and toads. Robins love slugs. Throw some slugs to your favorite birds, and they will keep an eye out for more. Attract toads with an upside down broken clay pot in a shady spot.
6: Watering strategy. Slugs are most active at night, or when the ground is moist and they can travel easier. Change your watering schedule to water in the morning so the soil or mulch is dried out by evening, which reportedly can reduce the chances of damage by snails and slugs up to 80%.
7: Seaweed is a good soil amendment and a natural repellent for slugs. If you have access to seaweed, mulch with it around the base of plants or perimeter of bed. Seaweed is salty and slugs avoid salt. Push the seaweed away from plant stems so it’s not in direct contact. During hot weather, seaweed will dry and become very rough which also deters the slugs. Don’t put lots of seaweed on already salty alkaline soil.
8: Coffee grounds. Another cheap and good way to get rid of slugs is by sprinkling coffee grounds around your garden, especially around plants that are more attractive to snails and garden slugs. The grounds will dry out in the sun, and these critters don’t like to crawl over them. Using a wide, shallow strip of coffee is best. However, horticultural side effects of using strong grounds such as espresso on the garden are uncertain. When using coffee grounds, moderation is advised.
9: Sprinkle crushed egg shells around vulnerable plants. Slugs and snails will avoid crossing the sharp shells and it will enrich your soil with calcium.
10: Another dislike of snails is sand, which they do not like to cross. Put a band of fine sand about ¼” high (1cm) high around the garden edge or base of plants.
11: Serious slug control: gather 1/2 cup of slugs, 2 cups of water and a couple cloves of garlic. Blend, and spray on plants. The extra mixture can be frozen for later use.
If you have other good for the earth ways to get rid of slugs and snails, I’d love to hear about them.
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How to eat snails: capture the round snails and place in a box or basket full of finely ground non-gmo corn. After several days, the snails guts will be cleaned out. They can be boiled and dipped in butter or coconut oil. Buen provecho!
By the the way, the long skinny snails predate on the round snails.