Slugs Eating Your Plants? Learn How to Deter and Control Their Damage

Slugs are a perennial and persistent problem in western Oregon, and our enduring rain through the entire spring and early summer has made conditions nearly ideal for slug and snail damage.

Protect your plants from slug damage – and your peace of mind – with some simple strategies and safe products.

Deter Slugs

  • Decrease favorable habitat for slugs and snails by watering in the morning, infrequently and deeply.
  • Keep the areas around your plants free of weeds and, where practical, deny slugs easy access to food by cleaning up plant debris and plucking or pruning to keep leaves off the ground.
  • Slugs are sensitive to a number of environmental factors and, despite their squishy sliminess, some predation. Predators for slugs and snails include ground beetles, some birds, and many snakes.  Encourage healthy predator populations with diverse planting and careful use of pesticides.
  • Physical barriers can limit slug damage as well.  Diatomaceous earth and hazelnut shells can be used around individual plants or even entire planting areas; or copper tape can be attached to pot rims or raised bed trim – a 1 1/2″ strip is required to deter some of our larger slugs and snails.

Sluggo products

Control Slugs

  • If you are dedicated and persistent, slugs and snails can be controlled by hand, at least to a tolerable degree.  Pick them at night 2-3 times per week for decent suppression, and drop them into a small bucket of soapy water to kill.
  • Homemade traps can be made by pouring beer into a reasonably deep container (around 3″) and burying it so the rim is right at soil level.  Slugs are attracted to the beer scent and drown in the liquid when they can’t climb out.
  • Several commercial products are available that provide good control of slugs and snails.  Slug baits using iron phosphate, such as Sluggo, work well – even better than traditional metaldehyde baits in wet weather – and are much safer for you, your pets, and wildlife.