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How To Get Rid of Snails and Slugs

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Snails and slugs might seem harmless. Instead, most people’s biggest concern is how unsightly they are around your home or yard. But, the reality is that snail, and slug infestations can grow rapidly and cause major damage to gardens and yards. 

But how do you get rid of these slimy, disgusting intruders? Don’t stress. I’m here to help. 

In this post, I will go over 13 ways you can get rid of snails and slugs. 

Let’s get started so you can start protecting your garden. 

1. Eliminate Hiding Spots

You need to remove hiding spots, maintain your garden, and reduce clutter outside to remove snails and slugs. 

Some favored hiding spots of mollusks include the following: 

  • Leafy branches near grounds
  • Stones
  • Boards
  • Tree trunk weeds
  • Heavy ground covers
  • Debris
  • Dead leaves
  • Dead branches

You might not be able to do anything about other potential shelters like water meter boxes, low fence ledges, and wooden decks. Therefore, be sure to remove mollusks from these spots frequently. 

2. Eliminate Excess Moisture

One of the most important steps to getting rid of snails and slugs is eliminating moisture. Snails and slugs need moisture to survive. This means that they are highly attracted to areas that preserve moisture. 

Common sources of excess moisture include: 

  • Fractured gutters or downspouts
  • Pipes with leaks
  • Busted sprinklers
  • Unleveled yards

You also want to make sure your home doesn’t have any moisture issues. Also, replace wet mud or moisture with fresh gravel or soil. 

Don’t forget to get to the root cause of excess moisture. Otherwise, the moisture will return, and the snails and slugs will return. 

During the mornings, irrigate your plants and crops. This will allow your soil to dry during the daytime instead of absorbing moisture through the night. 

3. Landscape with Snail-Resistant Plants

Fortunately, snails and slugs don’t eat all plants. You can use plants and flowers that have strong smells to drive snails and slugs away from the items in your garden you are trying to protect. 

Plants and flowers with a strong scent, woodiness, and decorative grass attract snails. 

If your yard has lots of snails in precise places, consider landscaping with the following snail-resistant plants: 

  • Rosemary
  • California Poppy
  • Lavender
  • Nasturtium
  • Sage
  • Cyclamen
  • Ferns
  • Lantana
  • Hydrangea

4. Use Diatomaceous Earth Around Your Garden

Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring rock. DE is safe for humans and other large animals but deadly to snails and slugs.

The DE will kill the slugs by causing them to dehydrate.

You can apply a DE slurry around your yard or garden. This will help you protect specific areas of your yard. 

A DE slurry involves mixing DE with water and using a pressurized spray to apply it to any surface you suspect the desert recluse.

Once the DE dries, any insects that contact it will begin to feel the effects.

For DE to remain effective, it must stay dry after application. If you have automatic sprinklers or it rains, you should reapply the solution.

Remember, when applying this to your yard, it will inadvertently kill other small insects with exoskeletons as well.

One huge benefit is that DE is non-toxic. It’s safe to use around humans, children, and in gardens without posing any serious dangers.

You can also apply a thin layer of powder around your garden. This method will also work but its more likely that the slugs and snails will avoid it or it will e blown away by the wind. 

5. Use Salt To Get Rid of Snails and Slugs

Salt is one of the most common household items you can use to get rid of snails and slugs. Salt is extremely effective at absorbing water.

For slugs and snails, this is like kryptonite. They need water to survive. Adding a substance to their skin that can begin absorbing water immediately is deadly within minutes.

You can use a saltwater combination and spray it directly on your soil or on your plants. On the other hand, you can also apply a barrier around your garden to kill any slugs and snails trying to cross the salt border. Finally, you can directly spray or apply it to any snails and slugs.

While this method is effective, some consider it to be inhumane. This method causes slugs and snails to suffer and die from dehydration.

Another disadvantage of this method is that using salt on your soil can harm your plants and flowers. By adding salt to your soil, it will decrease the pH levels inside the soil. This can cause plants to die and even reduce their growth rate.

If you are using salt to kill snails and slugs, you should keep track of your soil’s pH. You can track pH easily using test strips or Soil readers.

You will likely need to increase the pH of your soil to counterbalance the salt. One common solution is applying agricultural lime to your soil.

6. Use Nematodes

Nematodes are one of the few solutions that only work on slugs but not snails.

Nematodes are small roundworms that make it easy to attack and feed on small insects. Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita is species of nematodes that is extremely deadly to slugs.

To apply nematodes, you typically combine them in water and spray them around your yard and the affected areas. The nematodes will stay just below the surface of the soil and attack any slugs or snails that they encounter. You can expect to wait between 4 and 21 days before you begin to see a significant decrease in your slug population.

While nematodes are highly effective against slugs, studies show that they are not as effective against snails. One of the main reasons is the snail’s shell. Snails have the ability to keep nematodes from killing them by using their mucus to trap them against the wall of their shell. As a result, nematodes are not an effective way to get rid of snails.

One of the most easily accessible ways you can get nematodes for slugs is a product called nemaslug.

7. Use Natural Predators

Snails and slugs have many natural enemies, including ground beetles, rats, pathogens, snakes, toads, turtles, and both domestic and wild birds. Most are rarely effective enough to provide satisfactory control in the garden.

One predator found in some California gardens is a large Staphylinid beetle called the devil’s coach horse. However, this beetle, which is more than an inch long, will also feed on ripening or decaying fruits and vegetables.

Domesticated fowl (such as ducks, geese, or chickens) kept penned in infested areas can be effective snail predators that significantly reduce problems. Seedlings must be protected from feeding damage from these birds.

Chicken, geese, and ducks are natural predators of snails and slugs, as are turkeys, frogs, beetles, and birds. Introducing any of these animals into your yard is an effective way to control snail populations without using poisons and traps.

8. Snail and Slug Bait

Molluscicides are great, noxious baits for slugs and snails. However, by themselves, they can’t manage these mollusks over the long term.

Iron phosphate baits are great and safe for kids, birds, fish, domestic animals, and additional wildlife. 

Certain compositions can even work well with organic systems and integrated pest management (IPM) programs in gardens.

Slugs and snails that consume even a tiny portion of iron phosphate baits won’t feed anymore. It will take them some time to die, however. 

Metaldehyde and ferric sodium EDTA products are better to use if you want a quick death for slugs and snails. Spinosad can also take care of cutworm and earwig problems.

Be aware that ferric sodium EDTA products aren’t designed for organic use.

Where and How To Place Snail and slug Bait?

Where and how you place your baits will determine how effective the baits are.

You want to sprinkle the bait on the soil where you see snails and slugs regularly. You want to target areas of high moisture, common hiding spots, around gardens, bushes, and trees.

Avoid piling bait in large mounds or clumps. Large piles will make them more attractive to pets, children, and larger animals. When sprinkled, it’s hard for other animals to find them.

You also want to avoid baiting when it’s hot or very sunny. Snails and slugs are less active and less likely to come in contact with the bait. Apply bait after it rains or after you water your plants. This will allow you to target snails and slugs when they are most active.

9. Catch Snails and Relocate Them

Another way you can get rid of snails and slugs is to catch them yourself. You can do this by inspecting early in the morning or at night. Bring a flashlight, gloves, and a small bucket.

Any slugs that you see, you can catch them and place them in a bucket. Once in a bucket, you can either eliminate them or relocated them somewhere else to prevent infestations from growing.

You can use snail traps to help you catch snails faster. One of the most effective ways is to set upside-down bowls or pots in places where snails usually are. The snails will then go under the bowl to hide.

10. Use Snail Barriers

Copper foil, copper screens, and copper bands are a great way to repel mollusks from trees, planters, raised garden beds, or greenhouse benches.

The reason copper barriers are effective is that the slime and copper interact with one another. The interaction is thought to disrupt the nervous system of the slug and snails, causing them to avoid this surface.

You can also use a Bordeaux mixture which is a combination of copper sulfate and agricultural lime. You can create this mixture and apply it using a brush and apply it to trees, potted plants, or any other surface you want to keep snails and slugs from traveling on.

11. Use Snail Traps

Snail traps are effective because they are passive. You can set these traps and let them do their work. Check your traps after they have been set for several days and either relocated or eliminate them. 

Beer Trap

Set beer into a tuna can-sized container. Other container options include pie dishes, plastic cups, bowls, yogurt cups.

Afterward, implant this container either near the areas where mollusks prevent or in your garden. However, when you’re doing this, you want to make sure that it’s set one inch above the soil. The beer’s scent will then draw in the mollusks before they drown.

Don’t hesitate to use more than one trap and include yeast to further attract mollusks. However, if your traps are set at the soil level, bugs that are actually good for your garden could end up dying.

Strategic Traps

Use strategic positioning of flower pots and boards in order to trap slugs and snails within your landscape and garden. Reversed melon rinds also work well for this purpose.

To set up wooden traps, use boards ranging between 12 inches to 15 inches. Make sure they’re kept from being directly on the ground using one-inch long runners. These runners allow mollusks to crawl below.

Review handpicking to appropriately remove slugs and snails from these traps on a regular basis. Remember to steer clear of salt as a means of eliminating mollusks. The use of salt will only make your soil more saline.

12. Kill Their Eggs

If you’re looking for another effective solution, you’ll want to make sure you eliminate snail and slug eggs. 

Snails lay around 80 eggs per month and a total of nearly 500 per year. To make matters worse, snails reproduce asexually. This means that every snail you see can lay eggs every month. 

One of the most effective ways to eliminate snails eggs is to make sure you regularly till or plow your yard.

 Doing this will kill the eggs. Slugs and snails each set eggs within the soil’s surface. Therefore, garden tilling will immediately get rid of these eggs.

It’ll also ruin shelter conditions for mollusks and erode the debris they use to conceal themselves. Once the soil is taken care of, use wood chips and gravel. This will prevent the overall movement of garden pests.

13. Don't Overwater and Change your Watering Schedule

Switch up when you water your garden. This serves as another excellent means of eliminating slugs and snails. For instance, water your plants during the evenings if you’re in the habit of watering them during morning times. So long as the garden’s plans receive the necessary water, switching up your schedule won’t cause any harm.

There’s another bonus to watering your garden during the day. Doing this makes your garden less moist during nighttime. This will make your yard less desirable to snails and slugs, but your plants will still receive the necessary water.

A drip irrigation system also comes highly recommended for specific plants and your garden in general. This will help you avoid overwatering and ensure that soil is only moist around plants and other necessary vegetation.

How to Identify Snails and Slugs?

snail vs slug

Snails and slugs are soft-bodied, slimy gastropod mollusks. Most people believe they are insects or amphibians, but they are part of the mollusk family, meaning they are related to octopuses.

You can distinguish a snail from a slug because snails have shells that they can retreat into during harsh weather or protection. In contrast, slugs don’t have shells, and their soft body is fully exposed.

Snail shells look very similar to the shells you might find on the beach. The reason is that the shells you find on the beach come from other members of the mollusk family, including clams, mussels, oysters, and sea snails.

A distinct quality that snails and slugs share is that they rely on mucus to travel. As a result, they both leave a distinct mucus trail wherever they go, one of the most common signs of snails and slugs.

Snails and slugs both two sets of tentacles on their head. Most people might think these are antennas. 

As part of the mollusk family, they are considered tentacles. The top pair of tentacles are their eyes and the bottom pair are used for smelling. 

When are Snails and Slugs most active?

Slugs are most active at night and during the early morning. This is why you often don’t see snails or slugs, just the mucus trail they leave behind.

They are also active on cloudy, foggy, and on rainy days or the day after it rains. These days provide the darkness and moisture that will draw snails and slugs out in search of food and new shelter.

You are also likely to find slugs and snails most active after watering your plants or when there is scheduled moisture, such as daily watering, sprinklers, or when you have a pool set up.

You are unlikely to see snails when it’s sunny or during dry periods. During these times, snails and slugs will stay hidden and try to preserve their energy and moisture.

What Attracts Snails and Slugs?

1. Moisture

Slugs and snails love moisture. They need moisture to survive. They tend to congregate in cool, damp, and moist areas.

Common areas that tend to preserve moisture include low weeds, wet plant debris, collapsed logs, and under rocks.

Slugs and snails tend to choose a moist area with a nearby food source.

Without water, slugs and snails will quickly die. While snails can go weeks without water, slugs can only last mere hours.

2. Reliable Food Source

Like most animals and insects, they tend to congregate in areas where they can find a reliable food source. 

For snails and slugs, they will target areas with lush vegetation and, in particular nutrient-dense plants. 

Snails and slugs can eat a variety of plants. So you must take the proper steps to avoid attracting slugs and snails.

Snails and slugs tend to target leafy vegetable greens. This includes: 

  • Cabbage and Lettuce 
  • Strawberry fruit
  • Celery
  • Cress
  • Mustard
  • Small cucumbers 
  • Pepper plants
  • Buckwheat
  • Zucchini
  • Pumpkin

They will also eat a variety of herbs and flowers in your garden, including: 

  • Dill
  • Basil
  • Marjoram
  • Parsley

Some flowers they tend to target include: 

  • Marigolds
  • Sunflowers
  • Bellflowers
  • Zinnias
  • Dandelions
  • Dahlias
  • Petunias
  • Hostas
  • Delphiniums

3. Rotting Wood or Stones Around Your Yard

Snails and slugs are also attracted to rotting wood around your home. Rooting wood tends to provide moisture and organic material that slugs can use to survive.

Slugs and snails will also use stones to hide. Stones tend to preserve the moisture that is underneath, making them perfect locations for them to hide.

4. Unkempt Landscape

Snails and slugs thrive in unkept landscapes. Unkept landscaping provides moisture and hiding places that allow snails and slugs to survive.

Long grass, overgrown shrubs, excess weeds, and excess piles of leaves or grass create perfect hiding spots for snails and slugs. These areas also tend to trap moisture.

Other things to keep an eye out for include decaying branches, dead leaves, and leftover soil/mulch in the ground.

What Damage Do Snails Cause?

People who don’t garden often overlook the presence of snails and slugs. If you have a garden or care for plants in your garden, snails and slugs can cause severe damage to your garden and plants.

Snails and slugs will feed on plants and other vegetation, leaving large, smooth holes on your plants, plants, vegetables, and leaves.

Another common sign of snail and slug damage is slime trails around your yard, garden, and furniture.

Generally, slugs and snails are attracted to herbaceous plants, turfgrass, budding fruit on the ground, seedlings, and citrus. Unfortunately, they also consume foliage and plant bark.

Crops, pond fish, and water features don’t stand a chance against snails. Snails will also consume any vegetable or flower gardens you may have. These mollusks copulate quickly and can therefore mess up your pipes, pool filters, ponds, and outdoor electronics.

Parasitic worms and diseases are other forms of harm from snails. Schistosomiasis, for instance, can threaten human health and the health of pets. Snails are also eyesores that make your garden ugly and repulsive.

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