Snails & Slugs

Many species of plants are very susceptible to damage from snails and slugs. Increased natural predation by the native ecology can contribute significantly to lower snail problems. Almost no organic pesticide is needed once the snail population has been lowered. Several strategies, other than the use of pesticides, can be successful when followed persistently.

To control slugs and snails:

  • Practice sanitation in the garden by removing decaying matter and rubbish to eliminate breeding places.
  • Eliminate plants that are known to be attractive to snails by substituting less snail-attractive species.
  • The use of high nitrogen inorganic fertilizer can greatly increase the incidence of damage from snails and slugs. Foliage that is too lush and weak provides an easy target for snails and slugs. The use of organic fertilizers along with composts and mulches provides for strong plant growth with more rugged foliage.
  • Surround susceptible plants and planting beds with a sprinkling of diatomaceous earth. Renew as needed after rains or irrigation.
  • Locate plants that are attractive to snails to specific areas so other methods of control such as diatomaceous earth barriers can be utilized.
  • Hand picking can be effective. When snails get up into plants, hand picking is often the only way to remove them.
  • In some instances barriers of copper screening or copper strips can be used effectively to keep snails from certain areas. It is also reported that painting a liquid solution of copper sulfate on tree trunks, etc. will effectively repel snails.
  • Irrigation plays a huge role in the development of snail and slug populations. Focused irrigation that concentrates water only on the plant’s root zone and that is applied deeply only when the plant requires it can eliminate the damp condition that snails and slugs require.
  • Increase diversity. A variety of creatures come into play including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and even rodents, which also effectively reduce snail and slug populations. The use of decollate snails has been effective as a predator for garden snails.
  • Sluggo is an organic alternative to metaldehyde baits that can be used safely around domestic animals. The active ingredient is iron phosphate which occurs naturally in the soil. Even though Sluggo is an organic material, it is considered a pesticide and all necessary restrictions and precautions must be observed. The label lists all the information needed by the applicator for the safe use of this material and should be reviewed prior to each application. Appropriate personal protective equipment, including coveralls, boots, rubber gloves, and eye protection must be used.