Invisible slugs in my house
June 30, 2007 8:53 AM   Subscribe

I keep finding slug trails in the house, but I can't find the slugs.

I've tried following the trails and they don't go anywhere. So where did the slugs go? This has been going on for months, and I've *never* seen a snail!

Most of my googling has led me to ways to fight slugs in the garden, but I don't know what to do about them in the house. I can't put out poison, because I have a dog who likes snuffling for crumbs. I tried beer traps, but either the cheap beer wasn't to their liking, or they couldn't get to it since I can't bury the traps up to the rim like you do in the garden. I put some upside down grapefruit rinds out in hopes that I could at least catch some of them feeding, but no luck. Plenty of bite marks inside the rinds, but no slugs, no matter what time of day I looked. I'm not quite desperate enough to sprinkle salt all over my carpet, but I'm getting there.

1. Why don't the slime trails lead anywhere?

2. How can I get rid of them without endangering the dog?

Thanks everyone.
posted by happyturtle to Home & Garden (19 answers total)
Maybe the dog is eating them.

...that's all I got.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:04 AM on June 30, 2007

There are slug removal pellets that are pet-safe. Check the bag. I sprinkle them right around my foundation (if applicable you may have to get in your crawlspace) near the one room where I get the mystery trails.

Those trails disappear at a touch, so it could be that you or your dog are brushing away the trails.

Mine were coming in for cat food. Turned on the light one night and it was a horrorshow in the gravity feeder. I never was sure how they were coming in, I just put the pellets outside and it quit happening.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:11 AM on June 30, 2007

The slugs follow their own trail back to get out of your house, which is why you aren't seeing them. It's like your slugs are Hansel and Gretl and their disgusting foamy little sluggy tracks are breadcrumbs. So can you figure out how they're getting into your house and stuff it up or grout it or hard foam it? And can you figure out why they're coming in in the first place - dogfood? You may want to pick up your dog's food at night and clean the floor around the bowl.

Most slugs will enter your house in the middle of the night, prime time being 12-4 AM. So lie in wait for them or put out a webcam to see what's going on. They hate to slither their disgusting little bodies over sandpaper, so maybe lay some down to discourage them from coming back. I would try discouraging them and blocking them first, before trying salt or oyster shells or something that would lacerate or kill them.
posted by iconomy at 9:15 AM on June 30, 2007

I don't know where I've heard this, but pennies might keep slugs away due to the copper coating.
posted by trim17 at 9:46 AM on June 30, 2007

I wish I could figure out where they are coming in, but I've seen them in several different locations. The obvious suspect is a utility closet that is open to the earth, but I've never seen a trail leading to or from it. There are always trails around the bathroom, which is all interior walls, but I suppose they can work in around the pipes somehow. And then they can be seen around the front door, which is a little more understandable. It's a very old flat (Georgian town houses, broken up into flats), so I'm sure there are lots of crevices they can use.

Dogfood is kept by the front door, so I will start taking it up at night and vacuuming the crumbs up. I don't know what they could be eating in the bathroom though.
posted by happyturtle at 9:53 AM on June 30, 2007

Are you sure they are slugs? Both silverfish and cockroaches can leave slug like trails.... Not a charming alternative I know, but both are better at mysteriously vanishing than slugs.
posted by cascando at 10:16 AM on June 30, 2007

No, I'm not sure they are slugs, but there are lots of slugs outside, so they were my first thought.
posted by happyturtle at 10:33 AM on June 30, 2007

Have you gone out in the dead of night with a flashlight? That's how I usually find'em.
posted by donovan at 11:43 AM on June 30, 2007

I believe that sprinkling cayenne pepper &/or paprika on the ground around your garage will get rid of them. I know it worked for me to get rid of snails a few years ago.

If your dog gets to the cayenne pepper once, he'll avoid it after that. Won't hurt him though.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:56 AM on June 30, 2007

Go out where in the dead of night? The slug trails are in the house, and I'm happy to live and let live with the ones outside. Or do you mean that they flee when I turn on the lights inside? Surely they can't move that fast, can they?
posted by happyturtle at 12:05 PM on June 30, 2007

Sluggo is safe around pets and works well on slugs. However, it's not terribly cheap, and slugs may not be your problem. Check for them in the night or early in the morning. If you don't find slugs, you're probably dealing with some other sort of pest.

You can make boric acid traps too. Mix some boric acid (you can find it at a pharmacy) with some honey until you get a paste. Wrap a teaspoon or so in tinfoil, leaving a hole so that the critters can get at the bait. Stick it somewhere dog-proof -- in the cabinet under the kitchen sink, say. Works well for roaches and other crawly things.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:12 PM on June 30, 2007

Ok, why did I not register that you have them in the house? I think because I had snail problems in the garage that's why I had that in my head. Anyhow, I stick by the cayenne/paprika sprinkling suggestion though.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:15 PM on June 30, 2007

I heard from my orchid-growing pals that a good way to bait them is put out a dish of beer. They crawl in, thirsty for delicious beer, and drown.

Effective unless your dog likes beer.
posted by mckenney at 6:26 PM on June 30, 2007

Actually, I've heard the beer thing too now that you mention it.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:28 AM on July 1, 2007

Actually, I think I can rule out cockroaches or silverfish because of the bites taken out of the grapefruit rind. I'm going to try the boric acid and honey mix.
posted by happyturtle at 9:50 AM on July 1, 2007

Do you folks even read the question? Beer traps were tried and didn't work.
posted by desuetude at 10:30 AM on July 1, 2007

Oh, then that must be why I didn't comment on that the first time. We do read, we're just blinded by our insatiable desire to help you.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:31 AM on July 1, 2007

I might try the beer thing again. I got the cheapest thing on the shelf, which was actually lager, so maybe slugs are discriminating and only like beer?
posted by happyturtle at 11:49 AM on July 1, 2007

Years ago, when I was a peniless student, I lived in a ground floor bedsit that had a slug invasion. I will never forget the horror of waking up in the middle of the night and accidentally treading on one, barefoot in the dark....

I fixed it by sprinkling a perimeter of salt around all the exterior walls (although it sounds like you might need to do the interior ones too).

Alternative pet friendly barriers that I've used to varying degrees of success in the garden are: soot and/or ash, hair, chilli powder/cayenne, eggshells and copper bands (expensive but very effective).

Aluminium sulphate (the white crystal type of chemical slug killer) is termed pet-friendly, but you might want to read up a bit, before using it.

As others have said, removing the reason why they're coming in the first place will really help. Apart from dog food, do you have any houseplants at ground level that might be attracting them?

Good luck!
posted by dogsbody at 9:06 PM on July 1, 2007

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