Slugs & Snails


Slugs and snails are molluscs that attack many types of plant, including young seedlings, bulbs, herbaceous perennials, vegetables and strawberries. They are capable of feeding on flowers, foliage, stems, roots and seeds, although they may also attack the underground parts of plants, including bulbs and potatoes. Many species live underground or in wall crevices and come out to feed at night. Their voracious appetites, the fact that they are adept at hiding under debris, in containers and on garden plants, and their ability to climb, makes them serious pests in many gardens.


  • Slug and snail eggs may be exposed to the birds in midwinter by digging.
  • Hunt out slugs and snails at night by torchlight, and dispose of them destroy them somewhere well away from gardens, or destroy them in hot water or a strong salt solution.
  • Use a beer trap - a small pot full of beer sunk into the ground. This attracts the molluscs, which then drown. However, it will also attract beneficial creatures, so provide beetles with a twiggy ladder so that they may escape.
  • Lay crushed eggshells, grit, wood or coal ash around vulnerable plants - this will prevent slugs and snails from sliding smoothly over the ground on their trail of slime.
  • Place a plastic barrier around vulnerable plants - this may be made from a cut-down drinks bottle and pushed 2.5 cm (1 in) into the ground.
  • Place inverted grapefruit skin halves into the ground - the molluscs will gather inside, at which point you can remove them to a distant place or dispose of them in hot water or a strong salt solution.
  • They can also be controlled biologically by using their natural enemy, the nematode Phasmarhabditis hermphrodita. The nematodes reproduce inside the mollusc as it dies and are released back into the soil to infect new slugs and snails.
  • Aluminium sulphate crystals kill the slugs and snails by dehydrating on contact, and is harmless to humans, pets and wild creatures.
  • Slug pellets, containing methiocarb or metaldehyde, kill by dehydrating the slug or snail; however, they are potentially harmful if eaten by other animals (either directly or through the food chain), such as birds, hedgehogs and cats. They should be regarded as an absolute last resort.