Slugs are an unwelcome sight in the garden. They eat the leaves, flowers, vegetables, and grasses that you have painstakingly planted. Slugs have many predators such as snakes, birds, some mammals, amphibians (such as frogs), and fish. These predators, however, rarely keep the slug population under control. Are you wondering why you have so many slugs in your yard? Are you confused as to how to get rid of them naturally ?
10 Easy Ways to Rid Your Garden of Slugs:
- Look under rocks, leaves, moss, logs, birdbaths, and other garden objects to find slug eggs. These eggs are translucent or white and they look like tiny pearls. Eggs are laid regularly throughout the year (up to 700 eggs in a season). If you don’t want slugs in your yard, it is important to search for and destroy these eggs. Flush them down the toilet. Eggs can survive drought and freezing temperatures, so you can search for and destroy them throughout the year. This is the best way to humanely remove slugs – before they become adults.
- Place rocks, logs, or bricks around your garden to provide a place where slugs will want to hide or lay eggs. A grapefruit half-shell or a piece of old carpet will also be attractive to slugs as a hiding place. Check under these objects every day and destroy any slugs or eggs you find (as described in the following tips).
- Place slugs in plastic tubs or bags and freeze them.
- Pour salt on slugs you have collected in a bucket or can.
- Pour boiling water on slugs in the garden.
- Pour vinegar on slugs in the garden.
- Use bark mulch around your garden perimeter to create a natural barrier that slugs will not want to cross.
- Fill a deep lid or other shallow container with beer and half-bury it in an area where you see slugs. Slugs will be attracted by the smell of the beer, fall in, and drown.
- Plant strong-smelling herbs and other plants such as lavender, oregano, and rosemary. Slugs are less likely to eat these types of plants.
- Enlist the help of your children or the neighbour’s children. I paid my kids five cents per slug collected. They were extremely happy to help out with this as an incentive and they would often fill a medium-sized coffee can, which I could then place in the freezer.
Learn More About British Columbian Slugs:
Some of the many slug species seen in British Columbia are the Banana Slug, Black Arion (or Black Slug), Meadow Slug, Warty-jumping Slug, European Great Gray Slug (or Giant Garden Slug), Longneck Field Slug, and the Gray Slug. The Banana Slug is the second largest species in the world and can grow to more than 20 cm long. The European Great Gray Slug is the fastest slug in British Columbia. It can move four times faster than a Banana Slug.
Slugs do not only eat flowers, leaves, and grasses; they also eat lichens, mushrooms, dead animals, other slugs, snails, and earthworms. They even eat animal feces. If you have ever wondered if slugs are edible, they are not. This is because they can harbour dangerous parasites that are contracted from eating the feces of infected rodents. If humans eat the raw slug, the parasites can produce a toxic reaction called eosinophilic meningitis.
A slug must be able to produce mucus to survive. A slug slowly moves by making regular muscular contractions with its foot while secreting a layer of mucus to travel on. This slimy mucus helps to protect its foot and is what we typically see trailing behind the path of a slug. A slug’s slimy, shell-less body is susceptible to desiccation (drying out), so slugs usually live in moist areas and must move to damp, cool places (such as under rocks or logs) when the weather is hot and dry. This means they are more likely to be seen when the weather is damp.
Slugs are hermaphrodites. A hermaphrodite is a person or an animal that has both male and female sex organs. In humans, this would be a birth defect. In some animals, this is normal. Even though they are hermaphrodites, they still require a mate. The two slugs wrap around each other and exchange sperm. After just a few days, both slugs produce up to 75 eggs which are laid in a hole in the soil or under an object like a log. These eggs are translucent or white and they look like tiny pearls. Eggs are laid regularly throughout the year (up to 700 eggs in a season). This is why it is so important to remove slug eggs if you want to have fewer slugs in your garden.