Keeping Slugs out.
May 3, 2005 12:19 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have tried and tested tips for keeping slugs and snails out of the garden? I live in the northwest so there are a lot of them. I have heard using copper wire is a good barrier. Any ideas on this?
posted by retro88 to Home & Garden (21 answers total)
I'm not an expert by any means, but a friend tried everything (copper wire etc.) and eventually had considerable success by using rows of suicide lettuce.

For the copper I think capital T shaped things sticking out of the ground work best as the slugs can't crawl up and around the T bit.
posted by handee at 12:23 PM on May 3, 2005

I've heard that little cups full of beer, buried up to the rim, work as a magnet for slugs if you're looking to kill the buggers.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:29 PM on May 3, 2005

The copper tape is thicker, and works pretty well I think.
posted by fionab at 12:42 PM on May 3, 2005

There are a bunch of options, but none works really well.

Copper tape works somewhat, as long as nothing goes over it and it doesn't lift itself out of the ground. It's expensive.

A wide strip of diatomaceous earth works somewhat, as long as you make sure that it doesn't get broken or washed away.

Beer does work, as long as you keep the beer fresh and dirt doesn't get kicked into the containers or they over flowed by rain/. By the by, non-alcoholic beer is a stronger attractant than regular beer. Sink cat food cans into the ground and fill with beer. I've seen producs that are containers with a roof so that they don't get filled up with water, but they were a pain and broke easily.

Hand harvesting - helpful, but slow and tedious and requiring constant vigilance.
posted by plinth at 12:50 PM on May 3, 2005

My mother used the beer trick, and sprayed Frank's hot sauce on the plant stems. Of course, all of this made the backyard smell like TGI-Fridays, but it seemed to work.
posted by lilboo at 1:08 PM on May 3, 2005

Slugs and snails are after me, ddt keeps me happy...
posted by jonmc at 1:32 PM on May 3, 2005 [1 favorite]

I moved about 100 snails out of my small garden by hand a couple years ago, and they haven't come back.

I don't know about other parts of the world, but around San Francisco the snails are all descendents of escargot imported by a cook and are good for eating. A couple foodie friends have had good luck getting rid of their snail problem that way...
posted by rajbot at 1:45 PM on May 3, 2005

Leevalley has this great slug trap. If by NW you mean PNW and you're dealing with those monster banana slugs I don't know how effective it would be but it works works fine on the little guys we have here.
posted by Mitheral at 2:05 PM on May 3, 2005

I moved about 100 snails out of my small garden by hand a couple years ago, and they haven't come back.
It takes two years, according to Stephen Wright, and they'll be pissed off.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 2:56 PM on May 3, 2005

Eggshells. It's the only thing that's worked. I tried beer. It got diluted in rain or knocked over. I tried outlining the plants in salt. That was sort of messy.

Save eggshells, and dry them so they are easy to crumble and sprinkle the pieces in the garden around the perimeter and around the plants. The shards cut the snail bellies (I know, gross, but since we're already throwing out ideas on drowning the suckers) and they never make it on to your plants. It's not a one time application, you'll find you want to put more shells down as the dirt turns over a bit from rain or whatnot.

Also, it's organic, so no clean up!
posted by jerseygirl at 3:13 PM on May 3, 2005

I've not had slug problems, but my mother uses beer in cut beer cans. They crawl in, but can't crawl back out.

lilboo - cayenne pepper powder works the same, without adding vinegar to the soil.
posted by bh at 3:16 PM on May 3, 2005

Iron Phosphate slug bait is is non-toxic and apparently works pretty well; I can't vouch for it but I've got a bag I'm about to put out. Sluggo is one brand name (Escar-Go another), though all I could find at my Lowe's was some forgettable brand. It causes them to stop feeding (so you get immediate plant protection) and then they crawl away and die.

At least, they'd better. After their Night of the Living Slugs performance last week when it got warm and then abruptly cool again and I swear they were mounting a very slow attack on the house from across the patio, I don't want to see a slug ever again.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:26 PM on May 3, 2005

I second the Iron Phosphate--I've used it for a few years (in Seattle). It works great, doesn't hurt birds, mammals, fish, insects, earthworms, etc. Here's what the EPA says. The only health warning I've ever found is to not get iron phosphate in your eye because it will scratch the cornea. I've found the best prices at Fred Meyer or Home Depot.

I'm not fond of the beer traps because then you have these puke-inducing slug stews that you have to dump somewhere and they draw flies. Beyond disgusting in the heat of summer.
posted by lobakgo at 4:09 PM on May 3, 2005

They're active at night and you can hunt them with a flashlight - the slime trail catches the light. I fling them into the street.
posted by Mom at 4:44 PM on May 3, 2005

We used beer in the garden I had. It needed to be refreshed and got rained out sometimes but it mostly worked. I have heard [and read] that caffeine sprays can work the same way nicotine sprays can work against aphids. Never done it but might be worth a try.
posted by jessamyn at 5:16 PM on May 3, 2005

Spread a thin line of rock salt all the way around your garden.
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:48 PM on May 3, 2005

Shallow dishes of beer worked like a charm when slugs were decimating the new leaves on my outdoor cacti a couple of years ago. Yes, you have to empty the dishes frequently, not so much for the stale-beer smell as for the decaying-bodies-of-slugs smell. I found dead slugs in the beer every morning for the first week, but that week of beer drownings stopped the problem dead in its slimy tracks.
posted by mediareport at 9:47 PM on May 3, 2005

I go out at night and then compost the little slug corpses.
posted by yodelingisfun at 10:01 PM on May 3, 2005

You could keep pet ducks. They'll eat slugs. They might also eat your greens, but maybe they'll eat the slugs first.

Also, duck eggs.
posted by hattifattener at 10:36 PM on May 3, 2005

Get a hedgehog. Its their favorite food. They're cute, too.
posted by Goofyy at 10:58 PM on May 3, 2005

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