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Slugs and Snails and Gardeners' Wails FAQ

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This FAQ is a compilation of remedies and suggestions sent in by subscribers to URG, along with a few links to other resources.
I've tried to correctly attribute what was actually said, and cover all of the suggested remedies, but if you find a mistake or an omission, let me know.
Chemical Control Biological Control Organic Control Slug/Snail Resistant Plants Links

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Chemical Control

Alan Holmes suggested, "Lots of slug pellets! It's the only way."

Jon Rouse gave up other methods of control and opted for blue pellets of death. He writes, "the effect has been dramatic. Some pots in which we thought things had long since died have suddenly sprung into life, surrounded by slug corpses. Even my gorse bush, the mate to which I threw out last year 'cos it seemed to be dead, now has new growth at its tips, and a surround of slug and snail bodies.
Incidentally, did anyone hear about the snail trail theory? Evidently something in the slime of older snails stops younger snails from maturing. If you kill the bigger snails, the trails disappear and younger snails mature to take the place of their late departed brethren."

But Richard Roocroft noted, "I hate using slug pellets because we've got pussytats & occasional Harry the Hedgehog visitor. If you're using plastic drinks bottles, why not try just 2 or 3 pellets inside the bottle, so any subsoil baddies can die without subsequently poisoning goodies ??"

Amanda Beck's solution, "Go out at night with a torch and some salt and watch them sizzle!!"

Jill Bell mentioned "aluminium sulphate granules" which are available from chemists, apparently. "Growing Success Slug Killer - contains AlSO4 - though it doesn't say how much. Maximum dose 25g/m². Works for up to 4 days - unless it rains - then it doesn't."

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Biological Control

Clive Lea-Swain came up with, "There is a product on the market called Slugsure which I understand is a soil drench. It does not have any harmful effects on pets or wildlife so maybe that would work."

Chris French replied, "It's a nematode which parasitises the slugs. Slugsure is the name of the Defenders version. These and other suppliers in the FAQ.
They can also kill off water snails, so shouldn't be used near ponds."
He continued, "They really do work, and this year, slug depredations are much less than last, and still plenty of frogs, toads and hedgehogs!"

Soraya chipped in with, "I have found that nematodes have got rid of 90% of the blighters; but these can be quite expensive; also those free cd roms that you get in the post come quite handy. I break mine up and put them round my hostas and it seems to keep the slimy creatures at bay."

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"Organic" Control

Jane Ransom reminded me about, "bran - buy it cheap from pet food shops not health food shops - slugs and snails love it, gorge themselves on it, the greedy beggars. It swells inside them and does for them; kills them well and truly dead - and serve them right for being so greedy and forgetting their manners !!!!!!!!!!"

Louise Cooper said, "try scattering some cat biscuits on the soil in the vicinity of your precious plants. The theory is that slugs LOVE them, but take a heck of a long time to (a) eat and (b) digest them. They won't die of it, unfortunately, but they might just be distracted from your plants."
Other urglers were not so sure about the cat bickies, but Louise had a second tip, "lay garden fleece, such as Agryl, flat on the soil around your best plants; rather like putting down a layer of grit or cinders. I heard this one on BBC Radio Cornwall's gardening prog this evening - the panellist reckons that the molluscs get on to the fleece, then either can't or won't move once they're on it, and you can pick them up and dispose of them in the morning."

In a similar vein, Andrea added, "I'm putting melon skins out, half a melon skin upside down like a millennium slug dome . They fill up with slugs, then in the morning I tip it upside down and kill the little b*st**ds with salt."

Caroline Strike suggested, "Try soot - just scrape some out of the chimney and sprinkle around the plants, they hate it. Or try bran, sprinkle down bran, the slugs love it, eat it and then it expands inside them and then they explode!!!"

Clive Lea-Swain came back with, "There is a product on the market called Snail Ban I believe, which is made from crushed rock from Australia and is highly absorbent, probably Pumice. You just circle the plants with it and when the the blighters put a foot on it they get so dried up so they turn round and go to someone elses garden. It is not affected by rain and if not disturbed will last through the summer."

Ivy from Gloucester added, "I have tried putting beer into small containers here and there - this gets about 14/15 per container. I then tip them out for the hedgehogs to eat (hopefully). Where I have got pots standing on gravel I put salt on the gravel."

Tony Collins declared, "I've found that sharp sand - not soft yellow sand, keeps slugs at bay, put a collar of sand around each plant 4-5 inches wide."

Miko Coffey wrote in to tell us, "A friend back in the States uses the copper tape you can get for making stained glass windows: it's got a strong adhesive, making it perfect for putting around the base of pots."

Chris Bishop came up with a tip straight from the kitchen, "Ground coffee grinds? Apparently it works Hostas CAN have a future!!"

Trevor Rimmer, not known for his squeamishness said, "Put 'em in a bucket with copious salt in the bottom. Or cut with scissors. Slugs are tough beggars to squash underfoot - designed that way by nature."

David from Abacus Nurseries replied, "Most of the small and medium sized ones can nicely be squashed into to parts using your thumb and first finger crooked and a quick flick and there they are in 2 halves and well separated...Try it."
Thanks, but no thanks, David! :~)

Susie offered another kitchen waste solution, "I gather that egg shells work very well for deterring slugs - they don't like walking over them.
I've also had some sucess with beer traps. Fill jam jars or old yoghurt pots with cheap beer (they like bitter best) and press them into the soil. The slugs/snails smell it and fall in - must be a better death than being snipped in half!
I've also heard that growing garlic puts them off too. This sounds plausible as none of my spring onions have been chewed (yet!)"

Chris Jones said, "There's a thing called SAS Slug & Snail Repellant (Roebuck). It is an air aerosol containing a natural yucca extract which will withstand light rain but not a downpour. At 4.25 it is probably worth you sticking a yucca leaf in the blender I reckon."

Sally Holmes reported, "Seems some biologist in Cambridge had a garden heavily endowed with the b*****s. She was chucking them over the back wall onto a tow path to get rid of them, but decided to mark some first to see if any made their way back.
After about 10 weeks, 60% of them had 'homed'."

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Someone asked whether there were plants that Slugs and Snails disliked. The plants suggested by various urglers are....

Flowers/Perennials/Shrubs
  • Grass
  • Buttercups
  • Daisies
  • Poppies
  • Clarkia
  • Sweet Williams
  • Eschscholtzia
  • Nasturtiums
  • Pot marigolds
  • Snapdragons
  • Sweet peas
  • Most shrubs

Fruit & Veg
  • Blackberry
  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Radish
  • Carrot
  • Beetroot
  • Strawberries

Herbs
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Lavender

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Useful Web Sites

UK Slug Identification

This website lists dozens of slug control methods
http://www.ghorganics.com/page13.html

The Official Pacific Northwest Slug Page

A wonderful site found by Ron Martin
http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn028.html

rec.gardens.ecosystems Slug'n'Snail FAQ

Chris French's Suppliers FAQ for nematodes etc

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