Killer slugs – and what to do about them!

A Swedish woman armed with nothing but her wits and a bucket has fought off an army of almost 2,000 Spanish slugs” the headline said. I read on fascinated.

Now I garden alongside Nature as much as I can, but my greatest Enemy is Mr Slug.

Photo credit : theguardian.com

My father was always carefree, sprinkling those bright blue Metaldehyde slug pellets like little (deadly) jewels amongst his dahlias. He was of that generation and I could never persuade him to give them up. They didn’t keep off the slugs either. The bright blue colour is supposed to deter birds, but it does make them very attractive to children, and vets report pet poisonings particularly from those containing Methiocarb.

Slugs are hermaphrodite – did you know this? – which means they have male and female organs (the mind boggles here) so they don’t have to meet the opposite sex to mate, which presumably means a greater chance of producing those 30 or so eggs whenever they meet a fellow slug ; and indeed does it mean they both go off and lay those eggs?

So what to do?

  • Natural predators : when I kept free range hens, the garden was remarkably free of slugs.Creating a wildlife friendly garden, best with a pond, will encourage other natural predators such  as birds, hedgehogs and frogs.
  • Slug barriers : such as eggshells, which slugs don’t like slithering across, or coffee grounds , which slugs detest – also good for your soil, can be effective or you can purchase copper rings or tape to encircle your plants and give a little shock.
  • By hand : slugs are nocturnal so head into the garden at dusk and pick them up by hand, pop in a bucket and dispose, very effective; have soapy water and a stiff drink for afterwards.
  • Beer traps : my own favourite, though not the husband’s, who sees his best Belgian beer poured into glasses sunk about two-thirds into the soil. Slugs love it! I have emptied out 20-30 slugs from these in the morning, very satisfying for me and also to know that they passed on happily inebriated.

So back to the Swedish woman, Helen Martens, and the 2,000 Spanish slugs, Arion Lusitanicus, (they’re super big).

“I almost died when I saw them”, she said, as, boosted by recent rainfall,  the slug army laid siege to her 200 sq m garden.

“They had seized the opportunity to eat the sunflowers and the pumpkins”.

Undeterred, she donned her gloves and filled a 5 litre bucket with them,

“In total, I picked 1,773 slugs,” she said.

And if you think that’s bad, a 76 year old Swedish man has reputedly chopped up 28,000 this summer in his garden with an ice-scraper.

Belgian beer

So, my tip of the week, in this the height of the slug season, is to get the beers in, or.. you may prefer an ice-scraper!

12 thoughts on “Killer slugs – and what to do about them!

    • We’re not troubled so much by the dreaded Spanish slug in Ireland (yet!) but the routine ones love our damp climate. In Belgium, we have the dreaded huge Spanish slug decimating my lupins and much else but the beer has seen them off!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s worth trying different approaches to see what works for you. Many people believe the coffee grounds work best; beer has worked in my Belgian garden but, as you say, you have to keep up the effort. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Beer does work! I tried a shallow bowl sunk into the soil, poured some beer in, and waited. 30 minutes later, 10-12 slugs had already crawled in & drunk themselves to death. It’s a lot better than picking them off by hand!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My hens have NO interest in slugs! I think I’d have better luck with some ducks 🙂

    Mind you, whether it’s because I’ve not been spending so much time in the garden, I haven’t noticed as many as previous years. But my hostas, my poor gorgeous hostas are destroyed 😥 x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Belle, I had a tribe of hens who even had a go at the frogs! Frogs (and hedgehogs) are the most beneficial of the predators I find, so a wildlife pond can really help.
      My Belgian garden had the biggest slugs I’ve ever seen (the “Spanish slug”) and it took a lot of persistence in my first summer to cull them, by beer and evening raids. I still get some damage but it’s bearable.
      Hostas must be caviar for slugs and do seem to need a lot of protection – coffee grounds or sharp sand around the bases may help, if you don’t want to go down the slug pellet route.

      Like

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