Slug Pellet Free – Natural Slug and Snail Control

Gardeners, It’s Nematodes Time!

Posted on:
April 21, 2013

nemaslug-slug-killerWith most of the UK slowly getting towards low double digit temperatures, it’s now time to break out the nematodes.

In the war against slugs, the Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita nematodes are an effective and safe weapon that can be used around pets, children and wildlife in the garden. Many gardeners consider them one of the very best non-toxic alternatives to using traditional chemical slug pellets.

Remember, as nematodes are a ‘living’ slug parasite they can only be used effectively outdoors in spring and summer once the soil temperature has reached above 5 degrees centigrade.

Find out more about nematodes and buy the highly effective Nemasys Nemaslug Slug Killer here…

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Slugs and Slug Control Methods: Fact or Fiction?

Posted on:
March 31, 2013

The caffeine in old coffee grounds can kill slugs?

Fiction! The level of caffeine in used coffee grounds isn’t nearly high enough to be fatal to slugs and snails. The same would also apply to fresh grounds. Used too much and it could adversely affect soil pH.

Slugs love beer?

Fact! Slugs and snails are attracted to the yeast and other cereal ingredients in beer which is why slug traps using beer are commonly referred to as ‘slug pubs’. Find out more about my favourite slug trap the Slug X.

Washing your hands with soap will remove slug slime?

Fiction! Soap and water are useless against slug slime due to its hygroscopic (water molecule attracting) nature. Far more effective is to rub your hands together and remove with a dry cloth or paper towel then wash with soap and water.

Slugs dislike copper?

Fact! Crawling over copper gives the slug an unpleasant sensation, some call it a small electric shock. Copper rings or copper tape can be successfully used as slug and snail barriers for plants and pots.

Slugs are attracted to dry cat and dog food?

Fact! The cereal base in dry cat and dog food attracts slugs and snails in much the same way as the yeast and barley attracts them to beer. It can be used in slug traps and to lure them away from vulnerable plants.

Non chemical organic slug pellets are available?

Fact! Pellets using the organic compound iron phosphate are commercially available and if used as directed can be used around children, pets and garden wildlife. Most importantly they don’t contain the dangerous chemical ingredients metaldehyde or methiocarb as used in conventional slug pellets.

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Do Slugs Carry Disease?

Posted on:
March 23, 2013

Slugs and snails found in the UK are not themselves poisonous, however they can carry the lungworm parasite larvae Angiostrongylus vasorum. Also known as French heartworm, the parasite is most dangerous to dogs that eat infected slugs and snails and it can be a fatal condition if left untreated. The good news for dog owners is that if diagnosed and treated early enough by a vet the animal will typically make a full recovery.

Humans Eating Slugs

Although the lungworm parasite larvae is not dangerous to humans, eating a garden slug or snail is probably not best advised, even for a dare! In Australia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands slugs and snails are known to carry the Angiostrongylus cantonensis parasite larvae, also known as rat lungworm. Slugs and snails that come into contact with infected rate faeces can pick up the parasite. When ingested by a human it can in rare cases cause eosinophilic meningitis and can be fatal without proper treatment.

Even Ray Mears the famous British wilderness and bushcraft expert doesn’t recommend eating slugs and snails as they often feed on wild mushrooms, many of which are highly toxic to humans.

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Animals That Eat Slugs

Posted on:
March 4, 2013

Luckily for us gardeners there are a number of wild animals out there that love nothing more than to snack on a nice fat juicy slug or two. By encouraging these natural predators into the garden we can dramatically reduce the number of slugs eating our seeds, plants and crops. What’s more, it’s a completely environmentally friendly and ecologically sound slug and snail control method. Here’s the list…

  • Hedgehogs
  • Toads
  • Newts
  • Frogs
  • Birds – Redwings & Thrushes
  • Sand lizards
  • Shrews
  • Ground beetles
  • Slow worms

Check out this beautifully crafted Timber Hedgehog House and Wicker Hedgehog Hibernation Basket to help attract more slug and snail eating hedgehogs into your garden.

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Plants Slugs Love to Eat

Posted on:
February 24, 2013

Here we have a selection of plants that are particularly susceptible to hungry slugs and snails. With this in mind, please make sure you read our Slug Control Methods article…

  • Hostas
  • Iris
  • Delphiniums
  • Lupins
  • Busy Lizzies
  • Daffodil flowers
  • Orchid flowers
  • Pansy flowers
  • Primrose flowers
  • Marigold leaves

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Slugs in the House

Posted on:
February 14, 2013

Not satisfied with being a nuisance in the garden, slugs can also make the journey indoors and be a pest inside the house. There is something particularly disgusting when coming downstairs for a glass of water during the night only to step barefoot on a slug in the dark! Is there no escaping the slimy reach of the humble slug?

Where Do They Come From?

You may have noticed their silver slime trails over your floors, walls, carpets, rugs, shoes etc and asked yourself how are they getting in and why don’t I ever see them during the day? Well, as a relatively nocturnal species the slugs will typically only be active after you’ve turned the lights off and gone to bed. By the time morning comes they’re usually long gone, leaving you nothing more than their slime trail as a disgusting calling card.

A slug can enter the home through any number of access points, typically; gaps between windows, doors and external walls, through air bricks and up into the house between wooden floorboards. You’d be amazed at the surprisingly small gaps slugs can squeeze themselves through. Houses with airbricks below decking level, damp problems, and period properties with gappy wooden floors are likely to be more vulnerable to slug intrusion compared to more modern homes.

What Can I Do to Stop Them?

Follow the silver slime trail to identify entry and exit points and if possible use table salt as a barrier. As we all know, salt and slugs do not do well together! Salt can also be poured between the gaps in wooden floorboards if they appear to be an access point. Do bear in mind however that salt can be both abrasive and corrosive to metals, especially when damp. As an alternative, you may wish to try strategically placed copper tape or deploy a few flat bottomed, beer filled slug traps, useful as they are portable between rooms and can be put away during the day.

Find out more about the ‘Best Buy’ winning Slug X slug trap here…

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List of Slug Resistant Plants

Posted on:
February 12, 2013

Although no plant can be completely slug proof, there are certainly some plants that slugs don’t like quite as much as others. As a general rule of thumb, slugs and snails tend to avoid plants that are hairy, bitter, tough, waxy or highly fragrant such as lavender. By no means an exhaustive list, the following is a selection of slug resistant plants…

  • Agapanthus
  • Aquilegias
  • Anthemis
  • Astilbes
  • Astrantias
  • Ballota
  • Bidens
  • Begonias
  • Corydalis
  • Crocosmias
  • Epimedium
  • Euphorbias
  • Fennel
  • Ferns
  • Filipendula
  • Fuchsias
  • Geranium
  • Grasses
  • Hellebores
  • Heuchera
  • Hydrangeas
  • Japanese anemones
  • Lady’s mantle
  • Lavenders
  • Lilium henryi
  • Melianthus
  • Pelargoniums
  • Penstemons
  • Phlox
  • Pulmonaria
  • Roses
  • Rudbeckia
  • Sedums
  • Stachys
  • Tomatoes
  • Verbascum
  • Zantedeschia

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Slug Control Methods

Posted on:
February 9, 2013

The following is a selection of non chemical slug control methods, or as some gardeners call it, organic mollusc management…

Slug Pellet Free

First, a few words about chemical slug pellets and why I choose not to use them in the garden. The majority of slug pellets will typically contain the chemical ingredients metaldehyde or methiocarb mixed into a cereal and yeast bate base.

Metaldehyde pellets work by causing the slug to produce huge amounts of excess mucus leading to dehydration and in turn lack of mobility. The slugs will normally die from a combination of poisoning and exposure to the elements.

Methiocarb pellets are far more poisonous and act as a stomach poison once ingested. The poison will cause the slug to fill with fluid, suffer loss of movement and eventually die.

One of the main concerns with the use of slug pellets is that they can also seriously harm the slug’s natural predators including beetles, hedgehogs and birds, upsetting the delicate garden wildlife balance. The chemicals in slug pellets can also cause harm to adults, pets and children. A bright blue slug pellet can be irresistible to a curious toddler in the garden! Also, it’s no coincidence that most pet poisonings seen by vets are as a result of slug pellet use in the garden.

Understandably, many gardeners feel the negatives associated with the use of chemical slug pellets far outweigh the somewhat limited benefits and will therefore adopt one or more of the following non chemical slug control methods mentioned below…


Slugs and salt simply do not mix. Any slug coming into contact with salt will rapidly dehydrate and soon die. Although highly effective against slugs, salt is not at all good for the soil and can easily kill your plants.

Slug Barriers

Many gardeners choose to deploy a physical barrier around individual plants to help deter surface dwelling slugs. Materials used as a barrier are varied but can include; copper rings, copper tape, crushed eggshells/nutshells, human hair, sharp sand, soot, ashes, diatomaceous earth, and pine needles. Do bear in mind that the effectiveness of some barriers will be decreased by the wind, rain and garden animals moving them so will need to be regularly monitored and replenished.

Find out more about Copper Snail & Slug Tape, Copper Slug Rings and Natural Slug & Snail Deterrent

Night Time Slug Hunt

One of the most effective and environmentally friendly slug (and snail) control methods is to get into the garden on a mild, damp evening with a torch and simply pick them off by hand. If you can’t stand the thought of touching a slug you can either wear rubber gloves or use tongs (or both!). Any slugs found can be dropped into a bucket of salty water, quickly killing them. How you then dispose of a bucket of slugs is your choice, however I’ve heard some gardeners flush them down the toilet!

Slug and Snail Traps

The good old slug pub! Plastic containers placed on or sunk into the soil containing every mollusc’s favourite tipple, beer. Slugs and snails are attracted to the yeast and barley in the beer, fall into the trap and drown. What a way to go! Gardeners must take extra care to leave the rim of the trap a couple of centimetres above the soil surface so as not to drown beetles and centipedes.

Find out more and buy my slug trap of choice – the Slug X here…

A slightly different approach to trapping adopted by some gardeners is to put down a piece of old carpet, a newspaper, wooden plank, bricks etc. The idea is to provide a daytime refuge for slugs and snails which can be checked and cleared out on a regular basis. These hiding places are also great for encouraging a natural predator of the slug, the ground beetle.

Tidy Flower Beds and Soil Cultivation

Removing weeds, logs and large stones from growing areas can greatly reduce the number of places a slug can hide during the day. Cultivating the area on a regular basis will expose slugs and their eggs to the elements and predators such as birds and hedgehogs. Some gardeners will also keep the use of mulch and organic compost around plants to a minimum as this can actually attract slugs.


Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita, to give them their full name, are microscopic worms that can be added to water and poured over the soil in slug infected areas. The naturally occurring slug parasite will happily enter the slug when below ground, infecting it with deadly bacteria that will then kill it.

Nematodes are harmless to children, pets and other garden wildlife and are completely safe to use around food crops, making them one of the gardener’s safest and most powerful allies in the war against slugs.

Find out more about nematodes and buy the amazingly effective Nemaslug Slug Killer here…

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Top 10 Slug Facts

Posted on:
February 7, 2013
  1. Slugs are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female reproductive organs and can fertilise their own eggs.
  2. All slugs can lay eggs, with each slug laying up to 100 eggs at any one time.
  3. Slugs can typically live for about a year outdoors in the right conditions, longer still in a greenhouse.
  4. Most slug eggs are laid in the spring and early summer.
  5. A slug has green blood.
  6. Most slugs live underground, with only about 5% living on the surface.
  7. Slug eggs can lay dormant for several years until conditions are right for them to hatch.
  8. Slugs, clams and oysters are all types of mollusc.
  9. The hygroscopic slime a slug produces allow it to crawl over a knife edge without being cut.
  10. Slugs have two pairs of tentacles on their head. The upper pair sense light, the lower pair help to feel and provide a sense of smell.

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What is a Slug?

Posted on:
February 5, 2013

slug-on-leafIt would be fair to say that as far as garden pests go, the common slug (and snail) is likely to be top of most gardeners’ hit lists. So, in order to have a fighting chance of defeating them, it is important for us to know the enemy…

Gastropod Mollusc

The slug is a soft-bodied gastropod mollusc that moves by rippling the muscles on its underside whilst producing two different types of slime – one thin, one thick. The thin mucus, which is watery in consistency, prevents them from drying out and helps them identify one another, whilst the thick slime contains fibres to prevent them from sliding down vertical surfaces. The slime is hygroscopic in nature, meaning it can draw water molecules from the surrounding environment to increase efficiency.


Being mostly water and covered in mucus, slugs are highly susceptible to drying out which is why they thrive in damp environments especially well watered flower beds! When the weather becomes hot and dry they will seek shelter under bark, logs and plant pots so as not to desiccate and perish. It’s no coincidence that slugs are typically at their most active at night when it’s cool, dark and damp making them a relatively nocturnal species.

Hungry Slugs

Slugs will use their rasping and ripping mouth parts to make irregular holes in all manner of ornamental plants, fruit, vegetables and seedlings. Certain types of carnivorous slug will even eat other slugs, snails and earthworms. Yuck!

Species of Slug

The British Isles alone are home to roughly 30 species of slug but, believe it or not, they’re not all bad news. Many will harmlessly assist the break down of already decaying organic matter within the garden, others however will happily destroy your prize winning hostas without a second thought.

The Usual Suspects

The four most prolific British offenders are the Garden Slug, Field Slug, Keel Slug and the Black Slug. Not content with munching pretty much everything in their path above ground, some of these slimy molluscs will have no trouble burrowing deep into the soil to also feed on your seeds, bulbs and root crops.

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