8 Sure Ways to Get Rid of Snails and Slugs in Your House and Garden

Updated on May 4, 2018
Jan Saints profile image

Januaris is a part-time gardener and author of farming guides. He loves to write about crops, pest control, fish farming, and beekeeping.

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, especially in the garden and around the water tank, tap, aquarium, and fish pond.

Apart from being a turn-off, the mollusks are pests. They eat plants, so they can really reduce crop yield. They feed mainly on leaves which means that they can be a threat in your leafy vegetable garden.

Snail On A Wet Patio Feature
Snail On A Wet Patio Feature | Source

Snails and slugs in aquariums or fish tanks 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 can compete with the aquatics for resources. Third, they can clog the aquarium filters and pipework.

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, water tanks, potted plants or aquariums.

Ways to Get Rid of Snails and Slugs in Your House and Garden, in Brief

  • Using baits.
  • Using traps.
  • Using barriers and repellents.
  • Employing biological methods.
  • Growing resistant plants.
  • Using killer substances, chemicals, and pesticides.
  • Killing and disposing the mollusks manually.
  • Changing cultivation methods.

1. Using Baits to Get Rid of Snails and Slugs

First, the most effective baits are beer and iron phosphate. Second, to use this method, you can fill a bowl or wide jar half-way with beer and place it where the gastropods frequent. You can bury the jar to make it easy for them to crawl in.

When the pests come out from their hiding places, they will be attracted by the beer, move in, and get drown. You can then dispose the dead pests away from your garden, aquarium, or water source. Some great options for beer are grape juice or a mixture of yeast and honey or sugar.

Iron phosphate (in liquid form) entices the mollusks and even kills them. To use this substance, you can place a shallow container of the liquid around your water tank or any other place where you want to control the mollusks.

You can also use methiocarb and metaldehyde to control the pests. These baits can kill domestic animals and other wildlife and can also harm people. So be careful when using them. To use the baits, you only need to sprinkle them in the right places to control the organisms.

Many iron phosphate baits have been manufactured, but it is only one or two that can deal with slugs and snails. The most effective bait has been the Garden Safe Slug and Snail Bait and Killer which is formulated to lure these pests from their hiding places and killing them after ingesting it.

I have used this bait substance for close to 10 years, and I have been able to eliminate these pests when they struck my garden, water tanks, or aquarium. It is quite useful and convenient! It can be used around pets and wildlife. It is also great for organic gardening which means that it can be used around flowers, vegetables and fruit trees. In addition, it breaks down immediately to become 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. Using Traps to Control the Mollusks

The common 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 with time. Some great alternatives for this method are inverted melon or orange rinds and inverted cabbage leaves.

The overturned flowerpots work the same as the grapefruit halves. The pests tend to move into the pots when they are tilted. To trap as many pests as possible, you need to leave the flowerpots overnight in the infested area.

In the case of the boards, you need to set the wooden material on the ground. The mollusks will come to hide under the board 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.

An inverted saucer with lettuce leaves or some food items can also be a good trap. The pests will be attracted by the leaves or food items and get trapped inside. In addition, a water container with these items can be a great option for the saucer.

3. Using Barriers and Repellents

Copper is the best barrier or repellent for snails and slugs. The metal creates electric shocks in the body of the gastropods. To control the pests with copper, you need to place a tape or strip of the metal around the garden, aquarium, or water tank. You can also sprinkle copper fragments around these areas.

Diatomaceous earth is another material that can acts as a good barrier or repellent for the pests. The powdered material has sharp edges that cut their bodies, and to control the pests with it, you need to sprinkle a non-toxic one around the infested area. Some good options for this material are crushed egg shells, grit, 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. You need to place a solution of one of these substances where the pests frequent to control them. You can also sprinkle their powder form around the garden, aquarium, or water source.

Other barriers include ashes and fur. These materials affect the movement of the gastropods i.e., they inhibit their movement, keeping them away from food and other essentials for survival.

In addition, a simple electronic fence can be a great barrier or repellent. This kind of a fence creates an unpleasant sensation in the body of the organisms, turning them away. This sensation can only be felt by the mollusks, so it is safe for other animals.

If you consider buying the copper tape, I would recommend that you go for the Copper Foil Tape with Dual Conductive Adhesive. This is the repellent I use alongside the bait mentioned above to create an effective control mechanism for these pests. It is designed to discharge an electro static charge which reacts with the slime secretion of the pests causing a mild, unpleasant sensation to their bodies. This sensation kills or repels the mollusks.

The copper tape is quite effective in raised flower beds, greenhouses, potted plants, pet dishes, water tanks, aquarium, trees, and patio furniture. It is environmentally safe, doesn't have chemicals and can be used both indoor and outdoor. I would advice you not to hesitate to get this tape in order to keep your home and garden free from these pests.

4. Employing Biological Methods

One of the biological methods is the use of predators. For example, you can introduce chickens, geese, and ducks in your garden to feed on the pests. Other predators that can help include 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 are having the gastropods in the fish tank or 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.

Predator Slug
Predator Slug | Source

5. Growing Gastropod-Resistant Plants

One of these plants is hosta, but not all hostas can resist the gastropods. So you need to choose the 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.

Another resistant plant is seaweed. This plant is salty, a condition that doesn’t favor the pests. You can introduce seaweed in your garden pond to keep the pests away.

Other repellent plants include aromatic herbs such as lavender, rosemary, and sage. You can also try plants such as California poppy, geraniums, begonias, fuchias, nasturtiums, lantana, impatiens, and purple robe cup flower.

6. Using 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. To control these pests using salt, you need to find the organisms and sprinkle the substance on them. Salt can harm plants and other animals, so be careful when using it.

Garlic can also kill the gastropods. To use garlic on these pests, you need to mix it with water to create a solution then spray the solution on the infested area.

When it comes to chemicals, the most recommended one is iron phosphate which is effective in killing the pests. As mentioned earlier, this chemical is safe, so you can use it in any place infested by the pests.

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, as a pesticides, can also be used to kill snails and slugs at home. 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 with people, pets, and other beneficial animals.

7. Killing and Disposing the Mollusks Manually

If you don’t have issues with the look or feel of the mollusks, you can control them by just handpicking, killing, and disposing them. You can wear gloves and use tweezers or chopsticks to make the work simpler and easier. It is recommended to do the handpicking job early in the morning or late in the evening when the pests are out.

8. Changing Cultivation Methods to Control the Gastropods

One great way is to change the watering schedule in your water garden. For example, instead of applying water in the evening, you can start doing it in the morning. This will make the garden unfavorable for the pests at night as it will be dry.

Another great way is to till your garden frequently to kill the gastropods' eggs. When tilling your garden, you can remove any debris and introduce materials such as gravel and wood chips. Removing the debris creates unfavorable living conditions for the pests while introducing the mentioned materials makes their movement difficult.

Slug Eggs
Slug Eggs | Source

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a number of methods that you can use to control snails and slugs in your garden, water tank, or aquarium. Depending on your preference and other factors, you can choose a method that suits you to control the gastropods at home.

References

  • 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).

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© 2015 Januaris Saint Fores

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    • Jan Saints profile image
      Author

      Januaris Saint Fores 21 months ago from the Midwest

      Yeah, when broken down into fragments.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      do you think egg shells could deter them?

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