What Kills Snails and Slugs: Effective Methods Explained

What Kills Snails and Slugs?

Snails and slugs can be killed using various methods, both natural and organic.

Some natural predators such as chickens, ducks, geese, mice, opossums, raccoons, toads, hedgehogs, ground beetles, snakes, turtles, and birds can help control the population.

Organic methods like reducing their habitat, creating distraction beds, hand-picking them, using barriers like copper tape and physical collars, and using organic baits like “Sluggo” which contains iron-phosphate can also be effective.

However, crushed eggshells and coffee grounds, as well as diatomaceous earth, have limited effectiveness in repelling snails and slugs.

Key Points:

  • Various natural and organic methods can be used to kill snails and slugs.
  • Natural predators like chickens, ducks, geese, mice, opossums, raccoons, toads, hedgehogs, ground beetles, snakes, turtles, and birds can help control the population.
  • Organic methods such as reducing habitat, creating distraction beds, hand-picking, using barriers (copper tape and physical collars), and using organic baits (like “Sluggo” with iron-phosphate) are effective.
  • Crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, and diatomaceous earth have limited effectiveness in repelling snails and slugs.

Did You Know?

1. Copper barriers: It turns out that snails and slugs have a dislike for copper. When they come into contact with it, the copper reacts with their slimy mucus, creating a mild electric shock effect that repels them. This mechanism is often used by gardeners to keep these mollusks away from their plants.

2. Caffeine: While humans often rely on caffeine to wake up and feel alert, snails and slugs have a different reaction. These creatures are extremely sensitive to caffeine, and even small amounts can be fatal to them. Some gardeners sprinkle coffee grounds around their plants to naturally deter these pests.

3. Beer traps: One peculiar way to eliminate snails and slugs is by setting up beer traps. These pests are attracted to the yeasty scent of beer, so placing a container filled with beer in your garden can lure them in. Once they crawl into the beer, they become trapped and eventually drown.

4. Ferric phosphate: A lesser-known substance used to kill snails and slugs is ferric phosphate. Unlike traditional molluscicides containing harsh chemicals, ferric phosphate is an iron-based compound that breaks down into elements found naturally in soil. This makes it an eco-friendly option for gardeners concerned about the environment.

5. Nutritional yeast: Adding nutritional yeast to your garden can serve as a natural deterrent to snails and slugs. These creatures have a strong aversion to the smell and taste of this yeast. By sprinkling it around the plants, you create an invisible barrier that deters them from approaching, keeping your garden safe and slug-free.

Snail And Slug Behavior And Habits

Snails and slugs are fascinating creatures that can cause significant damage to gardens if left unchecked. These common garden pests are primarily active at night when the moisture and darkness provide them with optimal conditions for feeding and reproduction. They are particularly prevalent during wet seasons, as they are attracted to moist environments.

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Snails have a hard exterior shell that serves as protection, while slugs do not have such a defense mechanism. Both types of pests feed on a wide variety of plants, making them a threat to gardeners. They have a particular affinity for:

  • Herbaceous plants
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Young seedlings
  • Strawberries
  • Beans
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Pepper plants
  • Basil
  • Leafy greens

Furthermore, they don’t spare flowers and ornamental plants, such as:

  • Marigolds
  • Larkspur
  • Dahlia
  • Hostas
  • Zinnia
  • Sunflowers
  • Succulents

It is worth noting that snails and slugs reproduce rapidly, making their population grow exponentially, especially in favorable conditions. Therefore, it is crucial to understand their behavior and habits to effectively control their presence in gardens.

Feeding Preferences Of Snails And Slugs

Snails and slugs can be rather picky eaters when it comes to the plants they target. They tend to avoid tough, prickly, bitter, and highly aromatic plants like rosemary, catmint, and lavender. Additionally, ferns, geraniums, columbines, hydrangeas, euphorbia, yucca, wormwood, begonias, and Japanese anemone are also less appealing to them.

However, this does not mean that snails and slugs will spare the plants they find less desirable. They will still go after a wide array of plants, leaving a silvery, slimy trail of mucus as they feed. Their feeding habits involve chewing large, irregular holes in leaves. While snail damage to outer leaves may be unsightly, plants can usually recover. But if the centermost part of a plant is damaged, its growth can be completely halted. Furthermore, young tender sprouts and seedlings are at high risk of being consumed, putting an entire bed of seedlings in danger.

  • Snails tend to avoid tough, prickly, bitter, and highly aromatic plants like rosemary, catmint, and lavender
  • Snails will still go after a wide array of plants and leave a silvery, slimy trail of mucus as they feed
  • Snail damage to outer leaves may be unsightly, but plants can usually recover
  • Damage to the centermost part of a plant can completely halt its growth
  • Young tender sprouts and seedlings are at high risk of being consumed, putting an entire bed of seedlings in danger.

Damage Caused By Snails And Slugs

The damage caused by snails and slugs can be devastating to gardens. The holes they chew in leaves not only affect the aesthetics of plants but can also compromise their overall health. Plants with severe damage can struggle to produce fruits or flowers, and in some cases, they may even die.

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One aspect of snail and slug damage to be aware of is their preference for young plants. Their ability to consume entire beds of seedlings makes their presence in a garden particularly problematic during the early stages of plant growth.

It is important for gardeners to identify and address snail and slug infestations promptly to prevent widespread damage and ensure the vitality of their plants.

Natural Predators Of Snails And Slugs

While snails and slugs may seem invincible in their tiny and slimy bodies, nature has its own way of keeping their populations in check. Various animals serve as natural predators of these pests and can help control their numbers.

Chickens, ducks, geese, mice, opossums, raccoons, toads, hedgehogs, ground beetles, snakes, turtles, and birds are known to prey on snails and slugs. These creatures play an important role in maintaining a balance in garden ecosystems, as they contribute to the natural control of these pests.

Encouraging the presence of these natural predators through the creation of suitable habitats and minimizing the use of pesticides can help reduce snail and slug populations in gardens.

  • Chickens, ducks, geese, mice, opossums, raccoons, toads, hedgehogs, ground beetles, snakes, turtles, and birds all serve as natural predators of snails and slugs.
  • These predators play an important role in maintaining balance in garden ecosystems.
  • Creating suitable habitats and minimizing pesticide use can help encourage the presence of natural predators and reduce snail and slug populations.

“Nature has its own way of keeping their populations in check.”

Methods For Controlling Snails And Slugs

When it comes to controlling snails and slugs in gardens, various methods can be employed to keep their populations in check. It is important to note that organic and environmentally friendly approaches are often the preferred choice.

To start, reducing their habitat can make the garden less attractive to these pests. Clearing away debris, mulch, and dense vegetation can limit their hiding spots. In addition, creating distraction beds with plants that snails and slugs prefer can lure them away from more valuable crops.

Hand-picking the pests is a labor-intensive but effective method, especially when done during the night when they are most active. Using barriers like copper tape or physical collars around plants can deter snails and slugs from reaching them.

Organic baits containing iron-phosphate, such as “Sluggo,” can be effective in controlling snail and slug populations. These baits are safe for pets and wildlife. Alternatively, beer traps can be set up by burying containers filled with beer to attract and drown these pests.

While diatomaceous earth is sometimes recommended as a repellent, its effectiveness in controlling snails and slugs is still a topic of debate. On the other hand, crushed eggshells and coffee grounds have shown to be ineffective deterrents for these garden pests.

To summarize:

  • Reducing habitat by clearing debris, mulch, and dense vegetation
  • Creating distraction beds with plants preferred by snails and slugs
  • Hand-picking pests during the night
  • Using copper tape or physical collars as barriers
  • Using organic baits like “Sluggo” or beer traps

Remember, employing careful thought and diligence when using organic methods is essential to control snails and slugs in gardens effectively. By understanding their behavior, feeding preferences, and the damage they can cause, gardeners can maintain healthy and beautiful plants.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What kills slugs and snails instantly?

In addition to salt, another effective method to kill slugs and snails instantly is the use of nematodes. These microscopic worms are natural predators of slugs and snails, entering their bodies through natural openings or through their skin. Once inside, the nematodes release bacteria that infect and kill the pests, providing a natural and efficient way to control their population. This method is particularly useful for controlling slug and snail infestations in gardens and agricultural fields.

What kills snail easily?

If you are looking for an effective way to eliminate snails, one option is to utilize beer. Snails are attracted to the scent of beer and will crawl into a container filled with it. Once they enter, they will drown in the liquid. Simply place shallow dishes of beer in your garden, and let the intoxicating aroma do the rest. Another method you can try is applying copper. When snails come into contact with copper, it gives them a mild electrical shock that repels them. By placing copper barriers or using copper tape around vulnerable areas, you can keep snails away and protect your plants.

What chemical kills snails?

One chemical that effectively kills snails is orthoboric acid, found in an insecticidal bait called Ficam. This bait imitates food, enticing snails to consume it, which results in their demise. To eliminate snails, Ficam should be applied generously throughout the yard, prioritizing areas where snails are frequently spotted, such as gardens, near fruit-bearing trees, vegetables, and damp regions.

What smell do snails hate?

In addition to sage, rosemary, parsley, and thyme, snails have a distaste for the scent of citrus. The strong and acidic aroma of lemon or orange peels acts as a natural repellent for these slimy creatures. Simply scatter crushed citrus peels around your garden to create a barrier that snails will avoid, keeping your plants safe and your garden smelling fresh. Embracing this natural solution not only helps deter snails but also adds a refreshing citrus aroma to your outdoor space.

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