The Garden Slug – Escargo Without A Shell

slug, tiger slug, shelless mollusk

One of our homesteaders from Homesteading Edu wrote an article recently that he told me he would like me to share. So, here is The Garden Slug – Escargo Without A Shell, written by George McLaughlin.

The Slug – Escargo Without A Shell

Okay, I admit I came up with the title for this article, simply because it tickles my funny bone! I have never tried eating slugs, and have no plans to try. Though, I suspect… they wouldn’t be all that bad. If you have ever gardened where slugs are a problem, you know just how frustrating they can be. Where there are appropriate damp conditions, slugs can become a huge problem, devouring plants in the garden faster than one can replant!
Slugs are most often a problem in climates with prolonged periods of wet weather. Hence, we rarely have to deal with them in Oklahoma. However, in other areas slugs can be a really big problem.


1) For minor infestations one can go out at night and drop a pinch of salt on the offending slugs. This kills them.
2) Hand picking and dropping them into a soap or ammonia solution will kill slugs. No, slugs don’t bite. They can’t hurt you. So hand pick to your heart’s content.

slug on finger, handling a slug
Slugs can’t hurt you. Hand picking is an option.

3) Diatomaceous earth, which can be purchased in garden centers will sometimes help. One simply lays it down around affected plants. Supposedly, its microscopic serrations will lacerate a slug. I have not personally seen this to work.
4) There are a number of snail/slug baits available, commercially. Most contain iron sulfate. The slugs eat it and die. In my experience, these baits are indeed effective. The most commonly available slug bait is called Sluggo. Apparently these baits do not harm other critters in the garden.

Slug baits are effective

5) Beer! Yes, slugs are natural born alcoholics. If you pour beer into little dishes, even bottle caps, and place them in your garden at night, the slugs will flock to them, drink and… die! Bahwahaha! I did this when we lived and gardened in Indiana. My impression was that beer and iron sulfate were tied for effectiveness.

beer in mug, beer in stein
Beer is both attractive and deadly to slugs!

6) If your garden is fenced, and your situation allows it, it doesn’t hurt to free range some ducks in the yard. They’ll clean up on slugs, cutting down on those who make it to your garden. DON’T believe glowing reports about allowing ducks to scavenge inside the garden. I tried that a couple of times, using runner ducks, which are small. In every case the ducks had a party in the garden, destroying valued crops! I’ll never forget, checking on the “duck patrol” and seeing a duck nonchalantly pull up a young onion plant and swallow the whole thing, moving on to the next…. “Slugs? Who wants to hunt slugs when I can visit the salad bar?!” However, if your garden is surrounded by a lot of slug habitat, and it’s fenced, some ducks might indeed help.

Indian runner ducks, upright small type of duck
Ducks eat slugs and… many other things that grow in gardens.

7) Encourage toads in your garden. Leave a hiding place for toads, such as a weedy corner with some shade. Set out a shallow tray, flush with the ground, with water in it as well as some rocks, so a toad can get in, soak and get out. Toads eat a lot of pests.
6) Finally, it helps to eliminate weeds which conserve moisture near your young plants. So, while it’s sunny out, weed in and around your plantings. ”


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