Januaris is an expert gardener and author of farming guides. He loves to write about crops, pest control, fish farming, and beekeeping.
Reasons to Get Rid of Snails and Slugs
- They're not pretty. To some, snails and slugs are an eyesore. Their mucus-covered bodies and slime trail are not pleasing to the eye. And this is one of the reasons I keep them out of my home and garden, especially where they collect around the water tank, tap, aquarium, and fish pond.
- They damage plants and crops. Apart from being a turn-off, the mollusks are pests. They eat plants, so they can really reduce crop yield and do some damage to ornamentals. They feed mainly on leaves, which means that they can be a real threat in your leafy vegetable garden.
- They can wreak havoc on water features. Snails and slugs near ponds or other water features in your garden can be detrimental in a number ways. First, if the mollusks are parasitic, they can kill the fish. Second, if they are left to reproduce without control, they compete for resources. Third, they can clog the tank, pool, or pond filters and pipework.
- They host parasites. Some of the mollusks are hosts of deadly parasites and microorganisms. For example, the faucet and mud gastropods carry liver flukes. Other gastropods carry parasitic worms that cause bilharzia.
That said, all the gastropods can be controlled in similar ways which can be categorized into organic, natural, and chemical methods. This article is about how to get rid of snails and slugs in houses, gardens, potted plants, water tanks, ponds, and fountains.
9 Ways to Get Rid of Snails and Slugs in Your House and Garden
- Use bait.
- Use traps.
- Use barriers and repellents.
- Employ biological methods.
- Grow snail and slug-resistant plants.
- Use killing substances, chemicals, and pesticides.
- Kill and dispose of the mollusks manually.
- Change your watering schedule.
- Kill their eggs.
Each of these methods is described in detail below.
1. Use Bait to Get Rid of Snails and Slugs
You have two options: liquid or powdered baits.
Which baits work best on slugs and snails?
Liquid bait: The most effective baits are beer and iron phosphate. Iron phosphate (in liquid form) entices the mollusks and even kills them. Other great options include grape juice or a mixture of yeast and honey or sugar. To use this method, fill a bowl or wide-mouthed jar halfway with bait and place it where the gastropods collect. You can bury the jar a bit to make it easier for them to crawl in. When the pests come out from their hiding places, they will be attracted by the bait, move in, and drown. You can then dispose of the dead pests.
Dry bait: You can also use methiocarb and metaldehyde to control the pests, however these baits can kill domestic animals and other wildlife and can also harm people, so be careful when using them. To use these baits, you only need to sprinkle them in the right places to control the organisms.
Which is the best brand of slug or snail bait?
There are many iron phosphate baits, but only one or two can deal with slugs and snails. For me, the most effective bait has been the Garden Safe Slug and Snail Bait and Killer, which lures these pests from their hiding places and kills them after they ingest it. I have used this bait for more than 10 years, and I have been able to eliminate snails and slugs from my garden and water tanks. It is safe to use around pets and wildlife and it's organic, which means that it can be used safely around flowers, vegetables, and fruit trees. In addition, it breaks down immediately into the soil when left unconsumed.
If you are finding it hard to control these pests, just grab this bait and you will be able to deal with the menace in one day!
2. Use Traps to Control the Mollusks
If you'd prefer not to use bait or poison, a trap is a good solution. Common homemade traps for snails and slugs include inverted grapefruit halves, overturned flowerpots, and boards.
- A grapefruit has a scent that attracts the gastropods. When they crawl under the halves, they get trapped inside and die. Some great alternatives for this method are inverted melon or orange rinds and inverted cabbage leaves.
- Overturned flowerpots work the same way: Pests move into the pots when they are tilted. Then, to trap as many pests as possible, you need to leave the flowerpots overnight in the infested area.
- With a board, you need to set the wooden plank on the ground. The mollusks will come to hide under it after their activities at night. You can then lift the board during the daytime to kill them. A good alternative to the board is a black plastic sheet or carpet.
- Other ways: An inverted saucer or any other vessel with lettuce leaves or other bait can also be a good trap. The pests will be attracted by the leaves or food items and get trapped inside.
3. Use Barriers and Repellents
- Copper is the best material for a barrier for snails and slugs as the metal creates electric shocks in a gastropod's body. To control the pests with copper, place a tape or strip of the metal around the garden, pot, or water tank. You can also sprinkle copper fragments around these areas.
- Diatomaceous earth is another non-toxic material that acts as a good barrier or repellent for the pests. This powdered material has sharp edges that cut their bodies, so all you have to do is sprinkle it around the infested area.
- Other good barriers are crushed egg shells, lava rock, and sandpaper. You can also use coffee, ginger, sage, mint, vinegar, or garlic as repellants. In fact, some of these substances kill the mollusks in addition to repelling them. Place a any one one of these substances where the pests frequent. You can also sprinkle them in powder form around the garden or water source.
- Other natural barriers include ashes and fur. These materials affect the movement of the gastropods, i.e. they inhibit their movement, keeping them away from plants.
- Lastly, a simple electronic fence can be a great barrier or repellent. Electricity creates an unpleasant sensation in the gastropods' bodies, turning them away. This sensation can only be felt by the mollusks, so it is safe for other animals.
Which is the best snail barrier or repellant?
Combined with the bait I mention above, copper tape is my favorite barrier method. I use and recommend Copper Foil Tape with Dual Conductive Adhesive. The metal has an electro-static charge which reacts with the pests' slime secretions causing a mild, unpleasant sensation in their bodies, a sensation that kills or repels the mollusks.
The copper tape is quite effective around raised flower beds, greenhouses, potted plants, pet dishes, water tanks, aquariums, trees, and patio furniture. It is environmentally safe, doesn't involve chemicals, and can be used both indoor and outdoor. I advise you to get this tape to keep your home and garden free from these pests.
4. Employ Biological Methods (Predators)
One of the best, most natural biological methods is the use of predators.
For example, you can introduce chickens, geese, and ducks in your garden to feed on pests. Other creatures that help are tortoises, turtles, frogs, toads, snakes, newts, salamanders, hedgehogs, beetles, nematodes, and birds.
You can also use predatory snails. These snails are attractive and do not carry parasites. You can introduce them in your garden and you should not use other control methods such as baits, traps, and pesticides.
If you want to get rid of gastropods in a fish pond, you can introduce a scavenging fish. Some recommended fish include loaches, catfish, and putterfish. These predators also feed on the pests, eliminating the menace completely.
5. Grow Gastropod-Resistant Plants
Hostas. Although not all hostas can resist gastropods, so you need to choose a variety that is not friendly to these organisms. According to my own experience, the best hostas for resisting these pests are the ones with thicker leaves.
Seaweed also works. This plant is salty, a condition that doesn’t appeal to slugs and snails. You can introduce seaweed in your garden pond to keep the pests away.
Herbs and flowers. Other resistant and repellent plants include aromatic herbs such as lavender, rosemary, and sage. You can also try plants such as California poppy, geranium, begonia, fuchsia, nasturtium, lantana, impatiens, and purple robe cup flower.
6. Use Killer Substances, Chemicals, and Pesticides
Salt is one of the substances that kill the pests. It absorbs water from the mollusks, dehydrating and killing them. Sprinkle salt directly on them or use it to create a barrier. Warning: Salt can harm plants and other animals, so be careful when using it.
Garlic can also kill the gastropods. Mix it with water to create a solution, then spray it on the infested area.
Iron phosphate. When it comes to chemicals, this is my number-one recommendation. As mentioned earlier, this chemical is safe, so you can use it almost anywhere.
Other chemicals. Other effective chemicals include alum (aluminum sulfate), bleach (chlorine), and potassium permanganate. To use these chemicals, you only need to spray them in the infested area. Metaldehyde can also be used as a pesticide. This compound is toxic, so it may not be the best option for people with domestic animals. If you decide to use metaldehyde, you should ensure that it doesn't come into contact with people, pets, food, or beneficial animals.
7. Kill and Dispose of the Mollusks Manually
If you have a strong stomach for this sort of thing, you can control slugs and snails by just handpicking, killing, and disposing of them. Wear gloves or use tweezers or chopsticks to make the work simpler and easier. I recommend doing the handpicking early in the morning or late in the evening when the pests are out.
8. Change Your Watering Schedule
One great way to help combat these creatures is to change your watering schedule. Instead of watering in the evening, start doing it in the morning. This will make your garden less favorable for the pests at night, as it will be dry.
9. Kill Their Eggs
Another great way is to till your garden frequently to kill the gastropods' eggs. Both snails and slugs lay their eggs on the surface of soil, so tilling or plowing the garden will kill them, remove the debris they hide under, and create unfavorable living conditions for the pests. After working the soil, introduce materials such as gravel and wood chips to inhibit their movement.
As you can see, there are many ways to control snails and slugs in your home, garden, or water feature. A combination of methods might work best. Depending on your preference and other factors, you can choose the methods that suit you best.
- Flint M.L., Wilen C.A. How to Manage Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Snails and Slugs. ipm.ucanr.edu. University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. (Rev 2016).
- Hodgson E. How to Control Snails and Pest & The Best Management Program. (FAQ). extension.usu.edu. Utah State University. (2008).
- Murphy G., Coupland J. Slugs, Snails and Slime Trails. omafra.gov.on.ca. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food Fact Sheet. (PDF). (2004).
- Sakovich N. J., Bailey J. B., Fisher T. W. Decollate Snails for Control of Brown Garden Snails in Southern California Citrus Groves. anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu. University of California. Publication. (1984).
- Pundt L. Managing Slugs in the Greenhouse. ipm.uconn.edu. University of Connecticut. (2011).
- McDonnell R., Paine T., Gormally M. J. Slugs: A Guide to the Invasive and Native Fauna of California. anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu. University of California. Publication. (2009).
- Goh K. S., Gibson R. L., Specker D. R. Garden Slug. nysipm.cornell.edu. Cornell Cooperative Extension. Field Crops Fact Sheet. (PDF). (1988).
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: I'm seeing slugs at night on my back patio and it hasn't rained for days. I don't have a garden either. Can anyone tell me why I'm seeing these nasty things?
Answer: It is likely that your patio is wet, cold, or because the rain is near. See ways to deal with them from the article.
Question: Does Liquid 7 kill slugs?
Answer: No, Liquid 7 does not kill slugs. See substances that kill snail and slugs in the article.
© 2015 Januaris Saint Fores
Sony on August 16, 2020:
Thank you so much! Very useful information!
Adam on July 09, 2020:
I have a pro tip:
Have a big bowl, pour a can of very cheap beer in it.
Wait until the morning and profit.
alisabstuckey on May 05, 2020:
I am currently grinding eggshells and rosemary together then adding used coffee grounds with some success. I have ordered the copper and will add this as a barrier. Hopefully this help!
Honey on April 22, 2020:
Thanks for your ideas ,it's brilliant
Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on July 08, 2019:
@Adair Ok, and you can try one or more of the ways discussed in the article to do away with them from your home.
Adair on July 07, 2019:
Add Your Comment.. I found large brown slug on kitchen floor they are all over garden at night cant let dogs out there at night i have a phobia of slugs an snails there even out at front of house all over doors ect they make me actally vomit.
Kathie on June 14, 2019:
This was very informative. I am trying egg shells now and waiting for new growth. I will try the coffe grinds on another section and see which one works. The mulch didn't deter them in Florida, especially with rainy season here.
Jill Townley from Portland, OR on May 22, 2019:
Interesting what you say about iron phosphate. It has never worked for me. I will have to try the Garden Safe brand.
Januaris Saint Fores (author) from Intercontinental on August 30, 2016:
Yeah, when broken down into fragments.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on November 29, 2015:
do you think egg shells could deter them?