How to get rid of black slugs naturally.

How to Get Rid of Black Slugs Naturally (Ultimate Guide)

Slugs and snails are an important part of any garden’s micro-ecosystem.

But in high numbers, they can destroy your plants. Destroy. As in completely eat up all the leaves in a single night. No joke.

A single slug can eat up to 1.5lbs of plant material in a day. That’s your entire seedling- and then some.

For seedlings and younger plants, this can be the destruction of the leaves.

Don’t underestimate the power of their tiny mouths.

They can gobble down your plant overnight! If you’ve ever checked your plant the next day and the leaves suddenly have a ton of jagged edges or holes, this can be the work of slugs.

But don’t fret, there are ways to trap, repel, and kill both slugs and snails from your garden naturally without using poisons.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • Why slugs (or snails) are in your garden
  • What they’re eating
  • Where they’re hiding
  • How to identify them
  • Natural ways to get rid of slugs/snails
  • How to build DIY traps to catch them passively
  • How to repel them and prevent future infestations

By the end of this guide, you should have a solid understanding of how to fully control, manage, and eliminate slugs and snails from your garden.

If you have any questions, just post a comment at the end of this guide. I’ll try to help you out as always!

You can bookmark this page so you can refer to it later. It’s quite detailed and should be used as a dictionary for DIY home control slug remedies.

You may repeating themes in this guide. That’s because they’re IMPORTANT. Plus for anyone jumping around, I want them to understand the message.

Sounds good? Let’s send those slugs back to their shells!

Last updated: 4/25/22.

What’s a black slug?

Whether your garden has black or white slugs, they can be a nuisance to your plants.

Please note: Black slugs have their own classification (A. ater). They are their own species but it’s easy to get them confused.

But to keep things simple, we’ll assume they’re no different than orange slugs, gray slugs, red slugs, or white slugs. They all have the same DIY remedies that you can utilize to get rid of them. How conveninet

These are all largely the same species in terms of habitat. They can even be rust, brown, or ivory in color.

Don’t get me wrong- black slugs are classified as a different species compared to the typical garden slug. But for the purposes of this guide and simplicity, we’ll be assuming slugs in general throughout this article. There are over 40,000 types of slugs.

Darker slugs get their color because of the pigmentation in their body, which generally turns to a darker shade with increasing latitude. Slugs also turn darker in pigmentation as they get older. Younger slugs will generally be brown or orange or white.

Larger slugs (older ones) can eat more compared to younger ones. Thus, the larger slugs will do more damage to your plants compared to baby slugs.

The same goes for snails. These are hermaphroditic species that eat both plant and animal matter. They’re often found eating decomposing organic materials, eating other organisms, or eating vegetation. They’re found all over the US, Australia, Canada, and other countries.

In large numbers, these pests can destroy entire plants overnight.

They have a voracious appetite and can chow down entire stems of foliage in just a few hours.

Other names

Black slugs may also be called the following:

  • Alion ater
  • Black slug
  • Black arion
  • European black slug
  • Large black slug
  • Black velvet leather slug (mistakenly)
  • Spanish slug
  • Black garden slug
  • Leopard slug
  • Dark slug
  • Tiny black slugs

It’s considered to be an invasive species in many states, such as Texas. They wreck havoc on plant matter and can show up in large numbers. They can be large up to 6 inches or tiny. They can be found in your yard, or inside your house.

What about black snails?

Both snails and slugs are mollusks. They’re part of the Mollusca genus, which also includes clams and periwinkles.

The secret to their destructive nature is their ability to reproduce with just two individuals of either sex.

Slugs and snails have both male and female reproductive systems, which lets them take either role during their hour-long nuptial dance.

Yes, snails have a mating dance. Sometimes even including acrobatic movements:

What do they look like?

Slugs are slugs. The color doesn’t really tell much other than their native region, species, age, etc.

There’s no difference in black slugs vs. white slugs vs. orange slugs. They’re largely the same in terms of habitat.

They do the same damage no matter the color. If you’re in the US, it’s likely the same slug species- A. ater.

Identifying slugs is as easy as spotting the snail without a shell. Most slugs are gray, white, or black to dark brown.

They can grow up to 6 inches in length. Black slugs move about 2 miles per hour with a deep black coloration. Adults can be brown or white with pimentation going down the body. They have black foot fringes, tubercles, and soles.

Because of their dark coloration, they can be well hidden in dark soil. This makes them camouflage experts.

Whenever slugs crawl, they’ll deposit a slimy secretion.

So even if you never see a slug in the flesh, you can see the shiny trails they leave behind. You can find trails on plant leaves, surrounding soil, or stems.

Slugs and snails are active during the night, which makes them nocturnal creatures.

If you check in the early morning, you may catch them in action (eating your plants). Their slime trails are also easier to spot.

They only feed at night and hide in the day. If you see extensive damage to your plants (leaves eaten, holes, etc.) that only happens when you’re “not looking” then it could very well be slug damage.

Slug eggs will deposit their eggs in wet soil, compost, or other substrates. The eggs are tiny white specks that can look like a scattered mess.

Here’s a video that shows what the eggs look like in detail so you can identify them:

Testing for slugs

If you’re unsure what’s destroying your crops but you suspect that it may be due to snails or slugs, here’s a quick and easy way to identify what’s eating your plants:

Get a small garden spade and dig holes that are 4 inches across and 6 inches in depth.

Get a small wooden plank and cover each hole. If you dig them in a row, it makes it more cost-effective to just buy a long plank from your local hardware store and place it across all the slug holes you dug.

The holes should be almost covered completely. Leave a 1” gap on either side of the slug traps.

Remove the plank after 3 days. If you have slugs/snails, they’ll show up under it! The hole you dug provides a suitable shelter for them to hide during the daytime.

Slugs are like vampires- the sun dries them out so they hide from it.

Black slug life cycle

Similar to most terrestrial slugs, the black slug contains everything it needs to mate. It can even self-fertilize!

Whether it decides to mate with another slug or autonomously, the slug seeks out a dark, wet area for it to deposit the eggs. Topsoil is often preferred. The eggs are white and span about 0.2 ices in diameter.

Black slugs lay up to 60 eggs every 1-3 weeks in August to October- the peak mating season for slugs.

The egg clutches will slowly taper off to 20 eggs in later batches. Eggs hatch after 3-5 weeks, depending on temperature. Warmer temperatures make eggs hatch quickly compared to colder temps.

Baby black slugs begin feeding immediately and will reach full size within 9 months from birth. This perfectly gives them the ability to mate before the next peak mating season.

Where do they hide?

Slugs generally hide in the soil. They like to hide under organic matter like bark or wood chips.

If you’ve ever gone to your yard in the early morning then turned over a some leaves, there may be slugs hiding under the waste. They avoid sunlight and will hide during the daylight hours.

This is why you rarely see them unless they’re disturbed.

Are they poisonous?

Black slugs aren’t poisonous.

They’re actually edible in some parts of the world.

However, don’t go making them your next desert because they can carry parasites. They also produce unappetizing mucus that lines their body which can be toxic to predators.

Plus, who knows what they crawled in? They also can carry pesticides that were sprayed by other people trying to kill them.

As for dogs or cats, they can be a vector for parasites. It’s NOT okay for pets to eat them.

French heartworm is a common parasite that slugs are known carriers of.

Do they damage plants? What do they eat?

Black slug in garden.
These black slugs can demolish young plants.

Slugs eat nearly everything in the garden- veggies, fruits, herbs, seedlings, or even decorative plants.

They’re omnivores, so they eat everything from leaves, stems, earthworms, plant materials, dung, and even fungus.

They eat plants as its easy to digest and provides them with everything they need- energy, water, and somewhere to deposit their eggs.

Seedlings or younger plants with softer foliage are preferred because they’re easier to chew on. Older, tougher, or plants with spikes are natural deterrents that’ll repel them.

They’re all tasty to them. Some plants are prone to slug/snail damage, such as beans, cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce, etc.

Damage from slugs shows up as holes or jagged edges on leaves.

They chew through plant materials with their unique mouthparts that leave mickey mouse-shaped holes in the leaves.

Where do slugs come from?

Slugs are highly invasive and will deposit hundreds of eggs overnight.

It just takes two slugs to mate and deposit up to 40 eggs in one batch up to 6 times per year! Now imagine when you have 10 slugs. It increases exponentially.

Since slugs/snails both have female/male parts, they can mate like crazy.

Of course, your garden can only support so many. But you probably don’t want your garden to reach full slug capacity, right?

Why do I have black slugs in my yard?

That’s like asking why you have any other pest in your garden. There’s no way to answer this question without a professional exterminator.

Slugs are scavengers and will naturally gravitate towards yards with shelter, food, and a place to deposit eggs.

They like damp, undisturbed conditions with plenty of organic matter to hide or eat. Fertile soil that contains plenty of nutrients with mulch or compost are excellent slug homes.

If your home meets those bare necessities, then you can pretty much assume that you’ll have slugs someway or another.

Some USDA hardiness zones are especially prone to slugs, such as zones in the Pacific and Atlantic coastal regions.

Hawaii, Florida, California, Texas, Alaska, Alabama, Illinois, Chicago, Indiana, Iowa, and other Pacific Northwestern regions are all happy homes.

How to get rid of slugs naturally

Black slugs eating plants in garden.
Slugs or snails. They’re both the bane of gardeners.


Whether you have white, orange, black, gray, or yellow slugs, getting rid of them is the same list of methodologies.

Read on and suit what DIY home remedy suits your garden.

Start with the technique that requires the least amount of work and then scale up from there. If you have any questions, just post a comment at the end of this page and I’ll try to help you out.

Remove the slugs by hand

If you’re not scared to use your hands to manually remove them, go for it. Put on a disposable pair of gardening gloves (they’ll get slimy and gross).

Grab a bucket with a mixture of soapy water (1 tablespoon dish detergent to 1-quart water). Then pick them off and put them into the mixture.

The soapy water mixture makes them let go of whatever they’re crawling on. If the soap concentration is strong enough, it can kill slugs instantly.

Plants with extra-long leaves can be submerged in it to purge the foliage of snails or slugs. The best time to do this is during the night since that’s when they come out to forage.

If you’re up late, grab a flashlight and go hunting for slugs. It may not be the most efficient method, but it works if you have a smaller infestation of slugs.

Waiting until daytime is fruitless since they’ll be in hiding by then. Slugs don’t like the daytime heat.

Spray them with coffee

Cold coffee can help control baby slugs.

But again, it needs to be cold. If you spray them with it and completely cover them in it, it can be effective to control them. Slugs don’t like coffee.

Used coffee grounds can be poured in water then sprayed on them with caffeinated water. Coffee water will stain plants, so try to keep your aim on the target (albeit, the slow-moving target).

Remove slug eggs

It’s important to identify slug or snail eggs so you know what to look for.

On your journey to get rid of them, be sure to scrape up the batches of snail eggs you find.

This is basically eliminating dozens at once. It’s very efficient. You’ll find them in the soil, leaves, or stems of your plants. They look like tiny white ovals that are extremely sticky.

They’re commonly found just a few inches below the soil surfaces near the host plants where the baby snails will begin eating.

Sprinkle diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth DIY pest repellent.
Diatomaceous earth is an awesome pest killer and repellent.

Diatomaceous earth is said to dehydrate mollusks that crawl over it.

The rough surface of this fine earth crystal is also jagged to its smooth undersides. DE also will help naturally repel other insects like grout mites, snails, or webworms.

If you plan to use it, sprinkle it throughout the soil of your vulnerable plants.

Put another dusting around the perimeter of your plant bed like a fence to keep slugs out (or at least force you to crawl over it in order to get to your plants in the first place). Use food-grade, organic diatomaceous earth.

You can buy this online for cheap in bulk (see on Amazon).

Try pine needles or wood ash

While pinecones may be a favorite hiding place for pests, pine needles are not. They’re pokey and can pierce the slug body. The same goes for wood ash.

If you have either of these available, sprinkle them where you see slug activity. The sharpness of the material may keep them off your plants.

Other alternatives you can try are wood ash, sawdust, ground oyster shells, soap, borax, slag, cinders, sand, or slaked lime.

However, they’re not guaranteed to work- I could only find random reports online from incidences. But if you have them already, why not give them a try? Pine needs are completely natural and safe for your plants.

Introduce nematodes

Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita (European nematodes) are known to parasitize slugs. These nematodes are being used in the EU for agriculture control.

But they’re hard to find. If you’re able to import them legally or you’re in the EU, consider using these parasites to help kill the slugs.

Build a DIY snail trap

This trap is a simple low-tech way to eliminate slugs/snails from your garden.

No poisons, sprays, or anything fancy is required. Similar to the method outlined earlier on identifying slugs, this technique expands upon it.

Get a few pieces of cardboard and then place them directly over the soil near your plants that are vulnerable to slugs. They should lie nearly flat on the soil surface.

You can use wooden slabs, cardboard boxes, or even old newspapers for this to work. Leave them sitting there overnight. The slugs will hide under these materials as homes for the night. They’ll seek it out and hide there.

In the morning, put on some gloves. Get ready to go slug hunting! Turn them over and then pick the slugs off. Put Them into a bucket or something to catch them all.

You can kill them by using a solution of soapy water and dunking them into it.

Or you can relocate them to somewhere else. Putting the slugs into the freezer for a few hours I’ll also kill them, but could be quite dirty.

If you don’t catch anything, let the materials sit there for a few more nights. They may have not discovered it yet or that location doesn’t have a lot of slug activity in your yard.

Or build a beer trap

For a quick way to kill a bunch of slugs overnight, build a beer trap. Alcohol kills slugs instantly because it penetrates their waxy coating and kills on contact.

It’s not just beer that works- beer, whiskey, or even rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) all work the same way. Grain alcohol is said to work most effectively against snails/slugs.

50% rubbing alcohol is well enough to kill slugs. If you’re using 70% or higher, dilute it with water using equal parts. This is one of the most popular DIY slugs traps ever conceived.

It’s cheap, easy to make, plus very effective at killing them. Once you build it, it works passively without you needing to do anything.

Here’s how to build one.

What you’ll need:

  • Shallow plate or bowl with at least 1” of edge
  • Garden shovel
  • Cheap beer

How to make it:

  • Get a shallow bowl that has at least 1” of depth and pour a bottle or two of beer in it. Any brand works as long as it contains alcohol. No need for expensive drinks. Save that for yourself.
  • Use the shovel to dig out a circle in the dirt where slugs are active.
  • Place the bowl into the hole you dug. The edges of the bowl should line up perfectly with the surrounding soil.
  • Leave the beer trap overnight.
  • Check for slugs in the morning.

How it works:

Slugs are drawn to the alcohol. Once they dive in, they drown.

You’ll have to replace it every other day as the alcohol will evaporate.

The beer brings the slugs to it on its own. Add molasses, flour, baking yeast, or cornmeal for some extra bait if you find that the alcohol isn’t bringing them in.

Some slugs are resistant to alcohol and can end up getting out of the slug trap. But don’t worry, our next remedy will fix that.

DIY bottle trap

This trap works for slugs that are escaping from the basic beer traps. It doesn’t let slugs back out once they’re in.

It’s also extremely cheap to build.

You probably already have the necessary equipment lying around your household to make it. DIY people will get a kick out of it. While it won’t kill slugs instantly, it’ll slowly trap them over time.

What you’ll need:

  • 2-liter soda bottle
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Cheap beer
  • Garden spade

How to make it:

  • Grab your scissors and gently cut the top ⅓ of the bottle off.
  • This is where the bottle tapers outward in width. You’ve done this before- it’s just cutting out the top of it so you end up with a funnel-shaped piece.
  • Invert the funnel and gently push it into the bottle. So now you should have the top of the bottle with the spout funneling into the body of the bottle.
  • Tape around the cut piece so it stays in place.
  • Fill the bottle with alcohol- you only need an inch or so (with the bottle on its side)
  • Go out to your garden and locate where the slugs are present.
  • Dig out a small portion so the bottle can be placed into the soil on its side. The spout should be on the same level as the soil surface.
  • Leave it out for a few nights.

How it works:

  • The snails are drawn to the alcohol and will find their way into the bottle but can’t get out because of the funnel-shaped spout.
  • Replace the bottle when the alcohol no longer draws slugs to it or when it gets full of slugs inside it.
  • You can also substitute yeast, flour, or cornmeal in place of alcohol.
  • This slug trap is one of the most “guaranteed” traps for not letting the pests back out once they’re in.
  • This DIY remedy works for slugs, snails, or any other type of gastropod.

Replace plants that slugs target

Slug proof plants.
Choose a slug proof plant and never worry again.

Some plants are just vulnerable to slug activity no matter what you do.

If your yard is full of them, it’s no surprise that they’re constantly coming in to feast on these particular cultivars. Remove these plants or replace them.

If you have no other choice to eliminate those pesky slugs, this may be something to think about.

Are those plants worth it? Are there suitable replacements or substitute plants?

Do you get enough pleasure out of having them in your garden while dealing with slugs?

Ask yourself those questions first.

Then formulate a plan from there. Plants like phlox, mint, or astilbe look amazing and they help reduce slug damage.

Set up a slug trap (nonlethal)

This trap will help you catch a bunch of slugs and then allow you to release them somewhere else.

Remember that slugs prefer dark, damp, undisturbed hiding places.

You can use a piece of bark or wooden plank near parts of your garden that have high slug populations. Leave it there overnight. Then check on it in the morning.

You should see a ton of slugs stuck on it. It may look like something out of a horror flick.

Take the piece of bark and then relocate it elsewhere. This will remove slugs in huge numbers from your garden.

Does vinegar get rid of slugs?

Vinegar can be mixed with water in equal parts. Use a spray bottle to easily spray it on lone slugs to kill them. They should be killed within a few minutes upon contact.

The vinegar must be sprayed directly onto the slugs and completely cover the slug’s body entirely. The acetic acid in vinegar will dry out their mucus covering.

If the vinegar solution doesn’t kill them, increase the concentration of it. Vinegar is cheap, effective, and completely natural. Use pure white vinegar.

Do coffee grounds repel slugs?

Coffee grounds have that signature scent that’s overpowering, but oh so delicious.

For snails, they just can’t tolerate it. Scatter uses grounds in the perimeter of your plants that the slugs are eating to repel them naturally.

Coffee grounds are also good for your soil because they can act as a natural fertilizer, repel pests, lower pH, and even encourage plant yield. Slugs don’t like the scent of coffee, which makes it an excellent DIY remedy for pests.

It’s natural, safe, and can even be organic for veggies or fruits. They make a perfect choice for pest control. Put those used coffee grounds to use.

If you have dogs or cats that like to dig through your plant beds where you plan to use the coffee, fence it off. Coffee is a good slug repellent.

Try slug mites (if you can get some)

Slug mites known as Riccardoella limacum is a parasite of slugs. While commonly used in agricultural environments, you may be able to get your hands on a bottle of them.

They disrupt the native population of slugs, so it’ll likely destroy your garden’s ecosystem. You should only use them as a last resort. You can find more info on this parasite here.

Read all labels if you want to use it. Ensure that it’s legal to use in your region.

Increase alkalinity of your soil

Slugs don’t fare well in alkaline (basic) environments. If suitable for your plants, increase the pH of your soil by using things that naturally make it more basic.

There are also additives you can buy from your local home improvement stores that can increase the alkalinity with synthetic compounds.

If you choose to go this route, be warned that they’re extremely concentrated and not to overdo it. Read the label.

Use eggshells

Eggshells can be a natural perimeter for black slugs.

The spikey, jagged edges of the shells will poke their foot fringe, which is harsh on their slimy smooth skin. Scatter crushed eggshells into the soil like a minefield.

It’ll protect your plants from damage. Or you can line the perimeter of your plants with it. Or both. The eggshells provide extra calcium for your plants. Snails hate the pokey texture of crushed eggshells.

Encourage natural predators to feed on the slugs

Bird predator eating bugs.
Birds are a primary predator of slugs.

Think of the things in the wild that naturally eat slugs- birds, rodents, bats, chickens, ducks, shrews, beetles, praying mantises, salamanders, sciomyzids (marsh flies) carabid beetles, etc.

Firefly larvae are excellent natural predators that eat slugs.

Plus, they’re easy to bring to the garden. No matter where you’re situated, you can do something to encourage these natural enemies of slugs to show up.

Once they’re in your yard, they can eat the black slugs up without your intervention, sort of like security guards for your garden (that don’t require a paycheck!).

Use copper fencing (or copper everything)

Copper is said to repel slugs through the power of electricity.

I couldn’t find solid evidence of this online- only anecdotal reports in gardening communities like here and here. However, it’s worth a try if you have spare copper material lying around.

Copper tubing, copper fencing or flashing, or even copper tape or wire work. You can build, tie, or stick it where the black slugs are present.

Plant beds or individual plants can be protected. Just get creative. Some copper ties can be wrapped around the base of plant stems so that the slugs need to cross over them to get to the flowers or leaves. This ensures a “kill zone” for slugs.

Find out what predators exist in your area natively. Then do some reading on how to attract them to your garden.

For example, birds are a popular predator that’ll readily gobble up slugs without thinking twice.

Install bird feeders, birdbaths, or even birdhouses! This will bring birds to your property, which then can help reduce the slug population naturally.

Plant slug repelling plants

Slug-repelling plants are excellent for naturally repelling slugs, snails, or other mollusks.

Some of these include marigold, rosemary, sage, ferns, cyclamen, or begonias.

Lavender is also an excellent repellent. The strong scent from these plants will shun slugs from your garden.

Replace slug-infested plants with these or pair your slug vulnerable plants with them. Look into companion planting.

Choose plants that strategically grow well with your current garden situation that complement each other.

For example, you can plant California poppies with petunias.

Get rid of slug/snail hiding places

Black slugs like to hide under debris, especially leaf litter. Make sure you clean your garden and do regular maintenance to keep it neat.

This includes things like:

  • Removing grass clippings after mowing the lawn
  • Getting rid of leaf litter immediately
  • Rake your garden regularly
  • Keep plants tidy
  • Trim your plants regularly
  • Prune excess foliage
  • Harvest fruits/veggies on time
  • Check for pest activity on a schedule
  • Keep water features (pools, fountains, ponds, etc.) clean
  • Keep gutters clear of debris
  • Remove bark or other organic materials that provide covered shelter
  • Use well-draining soil with runoff routes for water
  • Don’t over-fertilize your plants
  • Never overwater!

You’ll find that doing these simple things will bring fewer black slugs to your garden naturally without the need for dangerous poison or sprays.

Simply making it less favorable to them by following these practices will benefit them. If your garden is in poor condition, hire a gardener or spend a few weekends cleaning.

Swap out mulch

Mulch is a slug bait because they love the moisture it retains.

It also makes it easy for slugs/snails to dig into it. If you can swap it out for another mulch substitute, do it.

If you must use it, use only 1-2 inches. The more you use, the more slugs you’ll bring to your garden.

Water at the right time

Geranium plant.
Geraniums are hardy against slugs and snails.

Since slugs do their feeding at night time, you can strategically use this to your benefit.

For example, water your plants only in the daytime so they don’t have water droplets to suck up.

If you water at night, the water won’t evaporate in time so it’ll sit out all night for them to drink.

Watering in the morning also provides plenty of time for the sun to get rid of the excess moisture on your plant leaves and substrate.

Use sand

Gritty substances like rough sand will hurt the slug’s feed as they crawl across it.

Get some fine sand and then sprinkle it around the perimeter of your plant bed.

This will help keep slugs out. You can also mix it into your soil if you want, which may help retain soil moisture. Some sand choices you can use are play sand, sharp sand, coarse sand, quartz sand, desert sand, horticultural sand, or fine sand.

Use grapefruit

Grapefruit is a delicious fruit, but did you know that it also makes a good trap for slugs?

Eat your grapefruit but don’t toss the peels (rinds).

The scent from the peels draws in slugs naturally in huge numbers. Place the peels upside down so that they offer a “cover” for the slugs to feast under.

Then check it the next day and you can do what you wish with the slugs. Feed them to the birds. Relocate them. Or put them in a soapy water mixture to eliminate them.

Grapefruit is one of the things that slugs love because of the citrus. But when you find them eating up the grapefruit flesh, toss it out to eliminate them in bulk.

Or just ignore them

Slugs are beneficial to gardens because they eat the things you don’t want to eat.

They’re scavengers and will break down organic compounds that would otherwise encourage molding or fungus. Snails/slugs will eat up the fruit, veggies, or other plants that are sitting around in your garden.

Of course, slugs will also eat fruits that are ripe or ready for picking, which you probably don’t like. They can be good for gardens.

They’ll also destroy the leaves of your plants, which may result in stunted growth or poor yield. It’s all about moderation. Having a few black slugs here and it is perfectly OK.

But if you just can’t stand them or they’re eating up your foliage, then get rid of them

Naturally. Without chemicals. Don’t use dangerous sprays of pesticides, especially for edible gardens.

There’s no need to use slug killer or bait from the store.

With some effort, you can effectively eliminate black slugs permanently from your garden without chemicals.

There’s no need for it.

What do slugs hate?

Slugs hate a lot of things. Jagged or sharp surfaces like eggshells, pine needles, or copper.

Diatomaceous earth, borax, or other dehydrating or fine powders will get stuck to their smooth bodies and destroy them. Slug repelling plants can also be very effective like marigold, thyme, or ferns.

Pair them with your vulnerable plants for companion planting. They like beer or sweets, but this can be used against them to bait them into a slug trap.

How to get rid of slugs permanently

Natural ways to get rid of black slugs.
Black slug foraging for food.

Slugs are important to the natural ecosystem of your garden.

They’re scavengers that benefit your yard by breaking down organic matter that other species won’t eat.

While they may feast on your plants, know that snails/slugs offer a few benefits:

  • Slugs provide food for mammals, birds, hedgehogs, or other predators
  • Cleanup crew for plants
  • Establishing a balanced ecosystem in your garden

So as you can see, having a few slugs around won’t hurt. It’ll actually do good for your garden.

To fully get rid of them is hard. But doing basic practices will help control their numbers:

  • Raking your garden during the early spring will help clean up hiding places that slugs partake in. It also removes slug eggs in huge numbers.
  • You can even set up hiding places that slugs love then remove them later on to catch them. Strewed leaves of cabbage, spinach, lettuce, or potato are all good “bait” for slugs.
  • Put them over your garden then remove them to catch slugs. Wood chips are also a favorite. You can use them as temporary housing.
  • Water your plants only as much as necessary. Excess water brings in more than just slugs.
  • Encourage birds in your garden. Slugs make a tasty treat for them.
  • If your area allows for chickens, they’re one of the ultimate natural predators that eat snails. Toads, turtles, or beetles are also excellent at hunting them.
  • Plant more slug repelling fauna and flora such as marigold, thyme, or chervil. Put them near your vulnerable plants or swap them out for foliage that’s less prone to slugs damage.
  • Copper your entire perimeter with copper tape. Ensure that there are no breaks in the tape. Slugs will need to touch it to come into your garden, which will save your plants.
  • Remove slug/snail eggs whenever possible. You can often find them in batches in the same area. This lets you eradicate dozens at once.
  • Keep your garden clean. You’ve heard this before, but it really works. When you let your yard fall apart and fill with organic matter (leaves, grass clippings, bark, etc.) it all contributes to shelter for mollusks to hide in. Keeping it clean will help reduce the number of slugs coming to your property.
  • Don’t over-fertilize. When you don’t need to use fertilizer, don’t use it. The buildup of it will just lead to excess food for pests to eat. It also helps your plants grow, which is a good thing. But it also provides your slug friends with more food to eat.

How to get rid of slugs indoors

Slugs that come into your house are likely getting in from cracks or crevices that are exposed to the outdoors.

They can slowly find their way in when temperatures become inhospitable to them outside.

Things like patio doors, windows, or damaged screens can be entry points. If you harvest fruits or veggies from your garden, slugs or their eggs may be stuck to them and you’re basically smuggling them inside.

Be sure to inspect all plants before bringing them indoors, whether they’re yours or you bought them from a nursery. New plants should be quarantined on their own before you bring them inside your house.

It’s not common for mollusks to come inside except after rains.

But if you get them all the time, frequently, they’re likely getting in through an opening in your property. Replace damaged screens, caulk foundation cracks, ensure your exteriors are well maintained.

Slugs can “slug” their way in through the smallest of cracks, so do a thorough inspection of your house. Hire a professional home inspector or handyman if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

How to stop slugs climbing up pots

Slugs or snails that climb up your pots can be controlled by using barriers. Think copper tape around the edges of the potter. Or sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the rim of the planter.

Pine needles, sand, wood ash, or eggshell can be used to create that jagged surface slugs hate.

Some people put decoy plants which act as a dummy plants.

They’re easier to digest and appeal to slugs more than the target plant. This can make a good way to minimize damage to your main plants.

Potted plants give you the benefit of moving them around. Consider placing it where birds are more active. Or put in some birdhouses or bird baths near it.

You can even put some coffee grounds in the soil itself in case it makes it past the other defenses.

Get creative. As you can see, there are many different combinations you can do to keep snails out of your plant containers.

Use the info on this page and formulate your own plan of action!

Commercial solutions

If nothing on this page works for bringing their numbers down, then you may need to resort to commercial slug/snail killer.

While I advise always using natural ways only, sometimes commercial killers may work out for you. Use organic or natural when possible, especially if you’re growing edibles in your garden.

Here are some products you can check out that are highly rated:

Be sure to read the labels and follow the instructions.

Hire a professional exterminator!

When in doubt, call a pro.

When you’re exhausted and just can’t tolerate the slugs eating up precious plants, a professional is necessary. They have synthetic compounds that aren’t available to the general public, so they really bring out the “big guns.”

This may be worth your money since it saves you time from trying out random remedies that may or may not work out for you.

If you’re busy, hiring a pro from the beginning when you first notice the signs of slugs is efficient. Read some reviews on local pest control companies. Ask for “green” or natural remedies.

Further reading

Here are some references you may find useful:

Get rid of those slugs from your home and garden!

Slug looking for food.
Slugs are no match for these DIY home remedies! Be patient. Be persistent.

You now know the basics of how to control, manage, and eradicate slugs from your garden.

Depending on the severity of your infestation, it may be very easy to get rid of them.

Use a combination of different remedies rather than just one at a time.

This will get you results efficiently and quickly.

Start with what you can easily do, such as building up natural slug traps, baiting in predators, or even going commando and lining your entire garden’s perimeter with copper fencing.

You have everything you need to know to control, manage, and eradicate slugs from your garden! If you have any questions, please let me know by dropping a comment.

Or if you have any tips to share with other fellow readers who may be dealing with slugs or snails, please let us know!

If you found this guide helpful, I really do appreciate your feedback! Just leave a comment!

Thanks for reading.


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