There is a time and a place where slugs and snails serve a good purpose. Inside your garden or flower bed is not one of them. So how do you get rid of slugs and snails? Fortunately, there is a very simple and safe way to deal with these slimy nighttime snackers.
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First, if the slugs and snails are only appearing in areas where you do not have sensitive plants, it may be best to leave them be. They are great decomposers of leaves and other organic matter that need to be broken down.
They also provide a food source to a wide variety of birds and mammals. So, if you are seeing them under your trees or under decorative hardscaping, they probably are doing more good than harm.
However, when they get into landscaping and vegetable gardens, they can demolish every good thing that you are trying to achieve. They will eat the earthworms, which most of us put extra effort into attracting.
They will munch on your lettuce, strawberry plants, and cucumber vines, just to name a few. A few slugs or snails can seriously diminish the harvest reward.
In landscaping, they are partial to any leafy plants that thrive in shade gardens, but they tend to favor my Hostas. Between the slugs and the deer, Hostas don’t stand a chance in my yard. (FYI – I would also avoid these plants if you have a problem with deer.)
Best Method to Get Rid of Slugs and Snails
Products recommended for eliminating slugs and snails from flower beds and garden areas.
Wait for a dry and calm day (i.e no wind). Spread a layer of diatomaceous earth around the plant that you wish to protect. Repeat throughout the garden or bed until all vulnerable plants are treated.
In a location close to the problem zone but clear of the DE powder place a small bowl or dish of beer. Beer attracts snails and slugs, and they will not be able to resist dipping into the well.
Once they reach the beer, they end up drowning. I am not sure if they fall in and are unable to get out or if they simply drink themselves into a stupor and drown. Whichever, this method works amazingly well.
Check the bowl the next morning and dispose of slugs and snails collected. Repeat each night until you are no longer catching any.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth, also referred to as DE powder and diatomite is a type of sedimentary rock that is made up of diatoms. If you recall from your science class, diatoms have cell walls made of silica.
These sedimentary rocks are ground down into a fine powder. When insects come into contact with this powder it acts sort of like ground glass.
In insects with exoskeletons, their outer protective layer is scratched and they die from dehydration. On other insects, the waxy coating is stripped away.
In particular, DE powder will cut through the soft body of slugs and snails. Generally, they will avoid it for safer options. But, those that happen across the area will not get far.
Types of DE Powder
When using diatomaceous earth, it is important to know which type is appropriate and safe for the intended applications. Currently, there are two types of DE powder – DE for pool use and food-grade DE.
DE for Pool Use
Pool diatomaceous earth is used to help filter out bacteria and small particles from the pool water. It contains a high level of crystalline silica, which is great for filtering water but incredibly dangerous if breathed into the lungs.
As such, this form of DE powder is dangerous to humans. It is also dangerous to pets who may sniff the area where it has been applied. You should never use pool grade (or filter grade) DE powder for anything other than pool filtration.
Food Grade DE Powder
As implied, food-grade DE is safe to use on food. The amount of crystalline silica, the dangerous form, should be less than one percent.
This makes it appropriate for all uses where human or animal contact may occur. However, you should still use caution to prevent the dust from entering your lungs. As with any foreign material, it isn’t a good idea to breathe in the loose particles.
Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe?
Diatomaceous earth is considered an organic and safe alternative to other chemical pesticides. It is safe to use on plants and will not hurt them. It can even be used on edibles and is a popular choice for organic farmers.
It is safe to be used around dogs and cats and is often used as a flea treatment.
It is also used to kill mites and lice around chickens and is considered safe for the chickens to consume the treated insects.
Downside to Diatomaceous Earth
DE powder needs to be applied when the ground is relatively dry. It becomes ineffective when wet and must be reapplied after rain. Naturally, it won’t work on plants that live in wet soil locations.
Because it is a natural pesticide, it may kill some beneficial insects. It is recommended that you use it just long enough to protect the necessary area.
Once the slugs and snails are under control, deactivate the residual powder by spraying it down with a water hose.
Alternatives Methods for getting Rid of Slugs and Snails
For those looking for a way to protect plants from slugs and snails without the use of De powder, you can start by using the beer by itself. This will catch quite a bit of the pesky creatures. Eventually, you can thin the volume to an acceptable quantity.
Cover it Up
Use a cloche to protect small and young plants until they are large enough to survive a few snack-happy slugs. Just remember that this is a temporary solution and only intended to protect seedlings.
Once the plant outgrows the space provided by the cloche, it will be at the mercy of the slugs. For that reason, it will not be a good option for beds that are overrun with snails or slugs.
Go for the
Copper is great for a lot of things. It is a great conductor of electricity. It is a natural algae killer, and it makes gorgeous furniture and decor pieces. The list goes on and on.
To prevent slugs and snails in planters, add a band of copper tape around the perimeter of the pot. Slugs and snails do not like to cross the barrier because there is an unpleasant reaction with their skin.
It is debated about how effective this method is in gardens, but I have found it to work very well with planters. As long as the leaves are above the ground’s surface, they will never reach the inside of the pot or riser.
This is my method for keeping the slug/snail population under control. I have a very plush and beautiful landscape, if I do say so myself ;-). So, I feel quite comfortable in saying that this method is a winner.
However, if anyone has some other techniques that work well, I would love for you to share them. Drop a comment below!