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How to get rid of garden slugs

Slugs are soft, slimy creatures (snails without the shell) that can wreak havoc on your garden. If you have a problem with garden slugs, try to tackle the issue without the use of chemicals.

Garden slugs

The problem with slugs

Slugs will eat just about anything in your garden. Though you might rarely see them (they are night feeders), these slimy little creatures can do some serious damage. When you see slugs, you can try to remove them by hand and kill them in a pail of soapy water. However, if you have a lot of slugs, hand-picking them will prove futile — you won’t be able to get them all. Follow these suggestions to help get rid of these garden pests without the use of toxic chemicals.

Clean out your garden

Slugs like to hide in damp places under grass clippings, rocks, weeds, wood and other items. Clean out your garden so that the only things that are left are the soil and your plants. If possible, tie up the plants to keep the leaves off the ground too.

Beer canBeer traps

Slugs like beer. Therefore, you can place small containers, such as pie tins, buried up to the rim throughout your garden. Fill the containers with stale beer and the slugs will fall in and drown. You can then go around to the containers and remove the slugs.

Copper barrier

Some gardeners say that slugs will not cross copper. Therefore, you can buy copper strips from your local garden shop and place them completely around the perimeter of your garden. Of course, you’ll have to get rid of the slugs that are already in your garden first, but this method should keep the new ones from coming in.


Caffeine acts as a natural pesticide. Spread coffee grounds around your plants to keep the slugs at bay. For live slugs, spray them with brewed coffee. Coffee is often as effective as more-toxic slug bait, and it’s much safer to use.

Iron phosphate pellets

At your local garden center, hardware shop or home improvement store, you can find iron phosphate pellets. Scatter these pellets throughout the garden and they will kill slugs within a week of ingestion. Though iron phosphate pellets are said to be safe for animals and humans, you should still take care to make sure your pets or children don’t ingest them. Iron phosphate slug and snail control products are sold under names like Sluggo and Escar-Go! These pellets have a component that attracts the slugs, as well as the iron phosphate to kill them.

Chemical bait (avoid if possible)

You can find a number of chemically based slug baits that are effective in killing slugs and snails. They are sold under a variety of different brand names and come in dust, granule, pellet and spray form. These baits use metaldehyde, which is a compound that can be toxic to birds, cats, small dogs and other animals. Try to avoid using toxic bait if at all possible. These baits are dangerous to your pets, and also shouldn’t be sprayed on or near edible plants.

More about garden pests

Create a pest-free garden
Neem: A natural pesticide for your garden
Organic pest control

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