No Time for Slime: How To Get Rid of Snails and SlugsPosted by: jhon | Posted on: September 17, 2020
Photo: Elizabeth Lara/Getty Images
Fans of the Nickelodeon cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants” will remember the adorable pet snail, Gary. But snails and slugs all over your home garden and patio? Not so cute. They can seriously put a damper on your outdoor paradise by leaving shiny slime trails around your home and unsightly holes in your plants.
“Generally, snails are not harmful to your property, but they can be very damaging to one’s garden,” says Ric Bessin, extension entomologist for the University of Kentucky. “Besides feeding on plants with their rasping mouthparts, they also leave silvery trails on plants and other surfaces, which can be aesthetically displeasing.”
Both of these soft-bodied mollusks aren’t a danger to humans, but they can be a nuisance, especially if they start an infestation around your home. Here are some ways to rid snails and slugs from your property.
Don’t let them hide
Slugs and snails thrive in dark, damp environments; but when it’s dry out, they need to find a place to hide. So your goal is to disrupt their hideaways and prevent new ones by removing potential hiding spots.
Bessin says they hide from sun during the day, so remove clutter in the garden like rocks, flowerpots, and loose bricks.
“Also, avoid overmulching around plants as this can also provide snail and slug refuge,” says Bessin.
Grow snail- and slug-resistant plants
As we’ve said, snails and slugs can do a number on your plants. You need to put your green thumb to use by planting the right plants—the ones mollusks don’t munch on.
“They feed on a wide range of foliage as well as fruits and vegetables like strawberries and vegetables that sit on the ground surface,” says James Dill, pest management specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
To kick these critters out of your garden, go with lavender, rosemary, begonias, and sage, and plant them among your fruits, flowers, and vegetable plants.
Snails and slugs are nuts for beer! Set up a beer container trap to lure them in and drown them.
To create a slug trap with beer, simply take a can with a few ounces of beer and bury it to the lip.
“Beer should be changed every few days to remain effective,” says Bessin.
Snails and slugs also love citrus, so a trap made out of an inverted grapefruit works.
Water in the morning
Since snails and slugs love moisture, homeowners need to be aware of the time of day they water plants and grass.
“Water plants in the morning so the area dries during the day,” says Dill.
It’s also a good idea to keep your garden neat and trim so water doesn’t linger on the foliage.
“Prune low branches and leaves on plants so the ground dries quicker around the base of plants,” says Bessin.
Serve them eggs and coffee
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But did you know your meal scraps can be used to expel snails and slugs from your yard?
Scatter broken eggshells underneath plants. The tiny, sharp-edged pieces can keep snails and slugs from crossing over since their delicate bodies can get cut up.
Many people get a little cranky without their java, but snails and slugs want nothing to do with your cup of joe. They hate caffeine. Make sure to sprinkle coffee grounds in your garden beds or spray brewed coffee directly on them.
Introduce natural predators
Your garden and property are wide-open spaces for snails and slugs to explore and wander. But don’t let them have free rein.
Enlist a team of natural predators to patrol the grounds.
“Release toads in your garden,” says Dill.
Also consider installing a birdbath since birds love pecking at snails. You can also add ducks, chickens, snakes, turtles, praying mantises, ground beetles, and fireflies to do the work for you.
Build a copper fence
Copper is toxic to snails and slugs, and when their bodies come in contact they get an electric shock.
“You can use two strips of bare copper wire about a half-inch apart attached to a board around the area you are trying to protect,” says Dill. “Or fence the area with a copper screen. Bury it 1 inch deep, and make sure it is at least 2 inches high. When the slug or snail comes in contact with each wire, it acts like a small, electric fence.”
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