Slugs are some of the most damaging pests when it comes to your garden. Prolific reproducers, slugs can give birth to nearly 40,000 offspring in their short lifetime, and a single generation of slugs can destroy an entire garden in just a few days.
So, it’s no wonder you’re here looking for the best slug killer for your yard and garden. And since we’re in the full swing of slug season, your timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Today, we are going to talk about slugs, what they are, why they are so devastating to gardens, and list some of the best slug killer products and home remedies to help you solve this slimy problem.
Let’s get started!
What Are Slugs And Why Are They So Problematic?
Slugs are mollusks more closely related to octopus than they are to insects.
Commonly mistaken for insects, slugs are actually invertebrate mollusks closely related to snails. Amazingly, slugs are more closely related to octopus than they are to bugs like bees, ants and spiders.
Slugs are boneless and non-segmented. They typically grow to be between three and five inches, though some slugs in North America can grow to be as large as 10 inches!
These pests vary in color just as they do in size. While most are tan, brown or grey, some slugs can be incredible hues of orange, yellow, blue, green and even red.
Most commonly, the slugs you’ll find in your garden tend to be only a few inches in length and are often brown, grey, tan or a combination of these colors.
Slugs are problematic for a number of reasons, which is why it’s important to have a good pest control method ready should you come across these mollusks in your garden.
First, they can be dangerous to people and pets. The mucus slugs produced can lead to serious gastrointestinal issues in dogs and cats if ingested, and some slugs even carry a parasite in their mucus known as Rat Lungworm, which can be transported to both pets and people as well.
Outside of the health risks, slugs are incredible reproducers. They are what is known as hermaphrodite breeders, as they have both male and female organs and can produce young without mating with another slug. This means that a single slug in your garden could lead to an entire infestation.
Slugs can often lay eggs in batches of up to 70 at a time, and they are capable of producing up to 40,000 young in their short two-year lifespan, as we mentioned above. It takes young slugs less than a year to fully mature and reproduce as well.
Worse, slugs are constantly hungry and they can eat several times that of their body weight each day. While they are beneficial decomposers in small numbers, they are also ravenously destructive in large groups.
This is partially because they multiply so quickly, but also because their diet is so broad. In fact, slugs have evolved over time to be able to consume nearly anything you can think of. They are some of the rare creatures on the planet that are omnivores, herbivores, carnivores and detritivores all at once.
Their diet consists of anything you can imagine, including vegetation, decaying material, fungi, mold, algae, insects and even other slugs.
This is why, as we mentioned above, one generation of slugs can annihilate an entire garden in just a matter of days.
But why do you have slugs in your garden, and what is the best and most effective slug killer you can use to get rid of them?
Keep reading to find out.
How Did I Get Slugs?
Slugs have an incredible appetite and can eat nearly anything.
Slugs may be more common in warmer, humid regions of the United States, but they can also be found in cooler, dryer areas as well.
Lush gardens are a haven for slugs because these gardens are typically filled with all the amenities they need to survive. Food, shelter, and water are readily abundant in gardens for slugs, and they will generally flock to regions that also provide plenty of cover from predators or the elements.
Many yards that attract slugs tend to have a few things in common – they have lots of debris whether it’s leaf litter or garden decor. Their gardens are consistently watered and irrigated, and there are several other insects living in their foliage.
Slugs may also be attracted to water gardens, fruit trees, and vegetable patches.
You may not see slugs all the time in your garden, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Slugs are nocturnal, and they tend to hide in areas rich with debris, including under potted plants, bricks, garden stones, and birdbaths.
How To Identify A Slug Infestation
Seeing a slug is a telltale sign you have slugs in your garden, but there are other signs as well.
Slugs can be sneaky.
They are nocturnal and sensitive to dry, cool weather, which means you often won’t see many of them at once. But just seeing one or two slugs in your garden could mean there are many more hiding below the surface. These pests are experts at hiding, but they do leave some telltale signs of their presence.
Do you have slugs? Here are a few signs to look for in your garden to find out.
Some of the most telling signs of a slug infestation are going to be their slime trails. These pests can only get from point A to point B by gliding along on a mucus trail they produce naturally.
This slime is a combination of water, salts and mucus, and it often dries and leaves behind a shiny trail wherever slugs have ventured. Slug mucus trails can be found on mulch beds, stones, walls, and sometimes even on plant leaves.
Slugs feed on new plant growth and often leave nothing behind but the “ribs” of the vegetation. If you find skeletal remains of seedlings, this is a good indicator you’re dealing with slugs and need to get your hands on the best slug killer.
Holes In The Leaves of Plants
Last, one of the most obvious signs of slugs in the garden are going to be jagged chewing holes on plants and leaves. These holes can be along the edges or directly in the center of the leaves themselves.
What Are The Best Slug Killer Products For My Yard?
Slugs are one of the most common garden pests, but there are plenty of products and methods you can use to get rid of them.
Have you identified slugs in your garden? Don’t worry – we want to help. Slugs are certainly damaging pests, but they’re also highly sensitive to certain habitats and products and are not as difficult to get rid of as you may think.
In fact, getting your hands on a good slug killer is relativley easy, and you have several options when it comes to getting rid of these slimy mollusks.
There are also plenty of choices when it comes to choosing between natural slug killer, cheimcal slug killer and organic slug killer. There are even several home remedies you can use as well.
Of course, there are pros and cons to using chemical insecticides, organic insecticides and home remedies, and choosing the method that is right for you will depend on a number of factors.
Not sure which type of slug killer would be best for your yard and garden? We have listed some of our favorite slug killer prodcuts for you to consider below.
Corry’s Slug and Snail Killer
First on our list of quality slug killer products is this slug killer by Corry’s brand. This prdouct is safe to use around both pets and wildlife and it will not harm beneficial insects like bees or butterflies.
It is also durable and weather resistant, so it can still withhold it’s potency and effectiveness even after a good rainfall.
Sprinkle this product around vegetable gardens, ornemeantal plants, flowers, folliage and turf to repel and kill slugs.
Corry’s Slug and Snail Killer works using sodium ferric and other active ingredients. While this product is safe to use around people and pets, it is not an organic product. It should also be used only as directed and kept out ofreach of children and pets.
Exterminators Choice Slug and Snail Defense
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This slug killer by Exterminators Choice is a prodcut that is made specifically by professioanl exterminators to kill both slugs and snails. We like that this spray comes in a large gallon container and includes a spray nozzel for quick and easy application.
Most impaortnatly, it’s an effective form of slug killer that is non-toxic, with its active ingredients including cedar oil, pine oil, peppermint oil and white pepper.
The product is safe to use around children and pets and will not leave a chemical smelling residue on plants and in gardens. It can also help repel other pests using the scents of essential oils like spiders and ants.
HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth
When we talk about using Diatomaceous Earth for pest repellent, we commonly discuss pests with waxy exoskeletons. However, Diatomaceous Earth is also effective against these soft-bodied slugs as they rely so heavily on water and moisture to live.
Diatmoaceous Earth works on slugs naturally to dehydreate and kill them. This product is made from foziled algea and is completely harmless to people, pets and the environment. You can sprinkle it around your entire garden and it will not harm beneficial insects like butterflies and bees.
Diatomaceous Earth is also effective against other common pests both inside and outside of the home like bed bugs, ants, roaches, earwigs and more. The order includes a duster to help get into hard to reach cracks and crevices or beneath stones or garden decor, helping to elimenate not only slugs but their eggs and nymphs as well.
Garden Safe Slug Bait
This slug bait by Garden Safe is an all natural and organic-gardner approved bait for slugs that kills the pests in a matter of three to five days upon being ingested. It works using iron phosphapate, which is a naturally occurring substance found in soils. Iron phosphate is lethal to slugs and will kill the slugs once they ingest it.
This order comes in a granular form and is specifically designed to be used in gardens near ornamental plants, flowers, vegetables and fruit trees. It helps control both slugs and snails and is perfectly safe to use around children, pets and wildlife.
It is recommended that you apply these slug killer grannuales in the evening, when slugs are most active, and then wait for about a week. You can reapply this product as needed if you continue to see slugs in your garden.
Monteray LG6500 Sluggo
Another natural slug killer that uses iron phosphate as the active ingredient is the above prodcut Sluggo, by Monterey. Again, this product is designed to control both slugs and snails and works using a batied poison that attracts the slugs and entices them to eat the bait, thus killing them in a matter of days.
The product comes in a granular form and is safe to use around children, pets and wildlife. It is also harmless to the environment and can be sprinkled directly around vegetation and garden plants like flowers, edible vegetables, fruits and ornamental plants. You can also sprinkle this product directly around your lawn if you notice slug problems there as well.
One of the most impressive feats of this slug killer is that it remains effective even after a good rain.
Bonide Slug Magic
Last on our list of the best slug killer for gradens is an organic gardening pest control product by Bondide. This is an all natural insecticide and pesticide specifically designed to target slugs and snails wihtout harming the enevironement. It is safe to use around children and pets and works especially effectively for vegetable gardens.
The product works by baiting the slugs and then killing them once the slug eats the pellets. What makes this product unique is that it is completely biodegradable and weather resistant. It is also safe to use up until the day of harvest in vegetable gardens, and you don’t need to worry about harsh chemicals on your edibles.
Each order can treat up to 1,000 square feet and remains effective after rains or storms.
DIY Slug Killer – How To Make Your Own Slug Killer At Home
Slugs are sensitive, and there are many household ingredients you probably already have that can help eliminate or repel them.
Because slugs are so sensitive to certain environments, it is possible to make your own slug killer from common household ingredients. Below are some of our favorite home remedies for how to get rid of slugs and recipes to make your own slug killer at home.
DIY Beer Trap
This DIY beer trap is certainly inventive, but it’s not necessarily the most effective form of slug killer, especially if you have a large slug infestation.
However, it can help you monitor and control slugs, so we’re going to leave it here for you to try.
To use this method, take a plastic cup and fill it halfway with beer. Bury the cup halfway in your garden and then simply leave it. Slugs are attracted to the smell of beer and will climb up the cup to take a sip, ultimately drawing in the drink.
Spread Crushed Eggshells or Nutshells Around Your Garden
Slugs are soft-bodied critters without any exoskeleton or shell to protect them. For this reason, they’re extremely vulnerable to sharp or jagged objects like crushed eggshells or crushed nutshells.
If you’re in a pinch, you can simply sprinkle crushed eggshells or nutshells around your garden to help protect vegetation and deter slugs.
Spread Coffee Grounds Around Your Garden
Slugs are very sensitive to coffee grounds, and sprinkling fresh coffee grounds from ground coffee beans can help deter them.
However, we should note that coffee can be toxic to pets if ingested. Refrain from using coffee grounds as a slug killer if you have curious dogs or cats that enjoy playing in the garden.
Use Petroleum Jelly To Protect Potted Plants
If you have slugs finding their way up your pots to feast on your plants, try using petroleum jelly to deter them. Spreading petroleum jelly on the pots of plants makes the pots very slippery, which in turn does not allow the slug to get a good grip, thus making it impossible for the slug to climb up to the plant to feast.
Make An Essential Oil Repellent
Many people use essential oils for natural pest control and repellent, but can essential oils really work on slugs if slugs are not insects?
The best essential oils to repel slugs, according to experts, include pine oil, cedarwood oil, and hyssop oil.
To make an essential oil spray or repellent to keep slugs at bay using any of the above three oils, you can use one of two methods.
The first method requires about 10 to 20 drops of the essential oil of your choice combined with two cups of water. Mix this solution into a spray bottle and spray it directly around your garden and on plants. You can even mix soap or salt into the solution to help kill slugs on contact.
To repel slugs using essential oils, simply saturate cotton balls in the essential oil you have on hand and leave these cotton balls around your garden and near plants you are hoping to protect.
Create A Barrier Using Copper Tape
Creating a barrier made of copper tape is a simple way you can make your own little electric fence to protect your plants. It is believed that copper tape works by mixing with the slug’s mucus, which creates a small electric shock when the slug tries to go over it.
This is obviously unpleasant, and the slugs will typically avoid going over copper tape to avoid this shock.
Copper Tape For Slug Repellent
As we discussed, copper tape can help repel slugs because it combines with their natural mucus, causing what many would consider an electric shock to the pest. This copper tape also preserves heat and is corrosion resistant, which is especially helpful when you’re using it in your garden.
There are many different uses for copper tape, but we do like this creative alternative when it comes to slug killer and prevention.
We also like that using copper tape to deter slugs is safe to use around people and pets.
However, we should note that this is a targeted method of protection when it comes to slug and snail control. Copper tape will only create a barrier and slugs will not go past it. It will not kill them or reduce their numbers.
You can learn more about how to use copper tape to repel slugs by watching this video below.
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Tips On Preventing Slugs – How You Can Keep Your Garden Healthy Year-Round
Slug prevention is key to ensuring your garden stays healthy and thrives.
Because slugs are so common, it can be difficult to prevent them altogether. However, there are methods you can use to help control their numbers and reduce the damage they cause to plants.
Along with using a quality slug killer that you trust to help protect your gardens, we also suggest following these below pro tips and tricks from experts on how to prevent slugs from getting out of control.
Invite The Predators
Slugs have quite a long list of natural predators, and you can use this to your advantage when it comes to looking for a way to prevent and repel them.
Like most pests, slugs will shy away from areas that are unsafe for them to live and lay their eggs.
The best slug killers out of this list, according to experts, are going to be non-venomous snakes. One or two non-venomous snakes in your garden can help control slugs and other pests in large numbers and they will not cause harm to your garden plants or yard.
Plant Slug-Repellent Plants
Companion planting is one of the most popular forms of natural pest control you can use that is not only effective but fun when it comes to repelling slugs.
Some of the best plants to incorporate into your garden to get rid of slugs include plants like chives, mint, garlic, fennel, marigolds, geraniums, rosemary, black-eyed Susans, and foxgloves.
To use this method most effectively, it’s a good idea to plant these slug-repellent plants around your garden as a barrier and to plant your vulnerable plants on the inner circle to keep them safe.
Keep Up With Landscaping And Remove Excess Debris
Remember, slugs are quite vulnerable to the natural elements and to predators, especially considering their soft bodies both inside and out. They rely quite a bit on natural-formed shelters in their environment to protect them and keep them safe.
If you remove these shelters and hiding places, they will be less inclined to find your yard and garden a safe and conducive place to live and eat.
Remove any excess debris, garden decor, leaf litter, grass litter, dead foliage, tree branches, stones, and anything else you feel would make a good hiding place for slugs.
Do Not Over-Water Your Garden
Over-watering can cause a number of issues in your garden, and one of those issues is an abundance of slugs.
Remember, these pests require lots of moisture in order to continue making the mucus that allows them to travel from one place to another, and without it they can quickly dehydrate and die.
Gardens that are constantly being watered tend to be more attractive to slugs. To avoid this problem, try watering on a schedule or consider investing in a drip emitter to target water to certain plants without soaking your entire garden or lawn.
And remember, while slugs can be a nuisance to people, pets and gardens, they also play an important role in our ecosystem.
In small numbers, slugs can be beneficial decomposers and interesting creatures overall. Of course, even in small numbers it’s really a good idea to keep them out of your garden.
So, what do you think about slugs and the best slug killer options we named above? Would you prefer to use home remedies or purchased products for slug removal?
Tell us what your preference is when it comes to slug killer in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.