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A definitive answer to the slug and snail menace for GOY members and vis...


The latest person to ask about how to deal with these horrors (unless you are dealing with the snail half of them with a large supply of garlic butter, some crusty bread and a hot oven as cleverly suggested by the asker) is Monjardinira and this is not meant to detract from her question at all, but I thought if we all put our ideas in on a blog, when this question is asked again, and it will be, it is so emotive and difficult, we can just refer the person asking to the answers here.

Here’s mine.

Being ecologically sound, I tried Nemaslug. Doesn’t work on snails anyway despite the sellers hinting that it may and I found not much joy with slugs so I gave it up. Some say it works but apparently not this year.

Years ago, in the bad old days when no one bothered about ‘green’ and ‘snail welfare’ (i.e. can a slug suffer?) I used to sprinkle those awful little blue pellets around. Sure they attracted slugs and snails but they sure got nobbled. Then a neighbour, who did the same, lost a dear little puppy, which I won’t dwell on except to say that my local community tend to love animals, most of us have them, and now nobody round here uses bait. They do say on the label ‘pet friendly’ but they are being economical with the truth.

So, I have now found a few answers. 1) I put down beer traps. If you don’t know what a beer trap is or want to know how to ‘make’ one, then Google it. The only sad thing with this is the waste of beer. 2) Go out at night, particularly damp nights, with a huge pair of hob nailed boots on and stamp on the little sweeties. A torch helps. 3) Do what my Australian horticulturalist friend does and madly pull old stacked plant pots etc. apart, find them there and stamp on them then. 4) Send O.H. out in the rain with a good stout pair of shoes on and tell her (or him) they are not getting back into the house until they can produce the right number of corpses. I usually specify 200. 5) All of these.

Right, that sets the ball rolling for this definitive blog. So now – your methods and suggestions. :o)

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A friend of mine rounds them up at night into a bucket then puts a lid on this bucket, when she walks the dog the next day she takes the bucket full of these beastly creatures and sets them free in the park!! (yes I know they 'come' back but not for years) Lol.
I just lob them into the field at the back of us and dare them to come back!
Great blog Sarra.

14 Aug, 2012


I live in the country and rely on wildlife to deal with the pests whilst this varies over the years causes me less stress BUT if they caused the trouble that I know they can do then I,d be on the warpath..........protecting my precious plants especially with whatever natural deterrent we know.....

Someone painted a blob of nail varnish on the snails before lobbing (on gqt I think) and they were back within 24 hours.......

14 Aug, 2012


Good blog, Sarra.....I do both, use pellets and also pick them off by hand, I'm afraid mine go in the brown bin, right or wrong. I'm really quite fond of snails, and used to have a pet one when a getting rid of them doesn't come easy.

14 Aug, 2012


I have not used pellets at all this year and have lost Hostas in the ground, but kept the ones in pots. Yesterday afternoon and early evening we had some heavy rain and I went out at 8.30pm to see if any beasties were around. Hmm, twenty three slugs and snails later, with three snails having the cheek to be climbing up the stems of the Hollyhocks, whose leaves are badly decimated already, and I'm sorry to say the beasties were thrown into the brown bin! Why aren't the frogs I see in and around the little pond, doing their job and eating them for me ... lol!

14 Aug, 2012


They only eat the little white ones underground most of the time in the spring Shirley. Too late now.

14 Aug, 2012


Oh well, roll on Spring .........

14 Aug, 2012


Have used nematodes in the past and found that they certainly reduced the amount of damage, but forgot to order this time, so have used various organic granules and copper tape but nothing has worked. So many things have been decimated this year by the dreaded SAS.

14 Aug, 2012


Little blue pellets as soon as the new shoots appear and also the order of the boot, NOPE no guilt here, when the snails show remorse and stop eating my plants then I might change my mind, as most of you know I have an abundance of pets, birds and frogs, also visits from tiny tots, not poisoned them yet....
I often throw some onto my shed roof in the hope a bird will find them but obviously NOT in the growing season when I`ve been using the pellets, I collect the dead ones up, crush them and use them around the stones on my raised beds, like I do my eggshells....

14 Aug, 2012


I started using silicon dust to control pests just recently. It's supposed to be eco-friendly. Does anyone have any advice on this?

15 Aug, 2012


Love this blog - glad to have inspired it since at least we can let off some of our frustrations here! I am that silly twenty-first-century person who is both squeamish and vengeful... i.e. I hate the slugs but wouldn't imitate an acquaintance who used to go out at nightfall with a pair of scissors! - though I'll confess that in the old days when I put salt on one, and the others came round to feast, I probably giggled! (nowadays of course like most oldsters I have to watch my salt intake so there's never any spare in the household cupboard!).
I know we should all let nature take its course and I mostly do (I cheerfully clear up the remains of the field mice that my cat brings in, and have ceased to lecture her about depriving my wall lizards of their tails). I don't squash beasties unless I'm sure they're lethal (and you should see the spiders nestling in my house's beams, Miss Havisham would be envious), but sorry - Monsieur Limace, Madame Limac[sic]on, please could you leave me SOME courgettes!

15 Aug, 2012


Courgettes Monjardinira? No chance. I got just one out about 6 plants to produce 2 edible sized spherical courgettes this year. Thought to myself 'Self, hardly enough for a child's portion of ratatouille so I will pick those tomorrow and pad them out by slicing and frying in batter.' Should have picked them there and then and put them under lock and key. Sitting by the plant the next morning was a snail looking to see if it could find a menu for the main course. :o(

15 Aug, 2012


Sarra - yum, slicing and frying them in batter? sounds good, never tried that - I do eat the flowers in tempura batter (see my avatar for this predilection) on occasion but not this year!.... here in France courgettes are considered boring but me I still enjoy them (even into marrow & walnut chutney at end of season) or I would, if those jolly beasties would let me

15 Aug, 2012


Slug pellets for me. After comment from another member, I did some research earlier this year into the effects of metaldehyde on birds and hedgehogs and the like. Believe it or not, there was and is no evidence to suggest that birds which eat slugs and snails who've eaten metaldehyde are poisoned by it. Metaldehyde is only active for about half an hour after being eaten for one thing, and the amount needed to kill off a small bird is significantly less than the amount of chocolate to kill one (about 2 flakes). Equally, hedgehogs do not appear to die if they eat poisoned snails either. I was astonished by this, I'd always believed the opposite. If a hedgehog decided to eat half a container of the pellets, then that'd polish him off, most likely - and the same is true of small animals, but obviously, the container shouldn't be accessible.
So, in years like these, when the little beggars are attempting to take over the world, the little blue pellets it is, but sprinkled lightly and frequently rather than heavily.

16 Aug, 2012


Strange. We haven't yet had any reports on the efficacy of eggshells and copper strips. Surely someone must have tried them. I'll tell you now, graveling doesn't work and if anyone says it does I'll have a bet with them (I don't gamble) for the cost of my gravel.

16 Aug, 2012


I've forgotten now, but some gravel is sharp and some isn't, or is that pea shingle, or chippings, I wish I could recall properly, but the sharp stuff might work, to a degree at least. Might be all you need some years, but not in years like this one's been...
I know 2ndhand does something with copper scourers, unravelling them and placing them round plants I think, and that's supposed to work and is cheaper than copper tape. Never tried it myself.

16 Aug, 2012


I can comment re the egg shells - they didn't work in my garden last year. I religiously collected all the eggshells - and had neighbours donate theirs. Crushed and places around the bottom of all the hostas and other plants they love - didn't make the slightest bit of difference.
I also went out at 3am when I came home from work one morning - bucket and torch in hand. A neighbour saw the torch light at that time in the morning and promptly called the police. It was rather embarassing explaining myself to the 2 constables - however - one of them was going to tell his wife about collecting slugs at night as she had been complaining about them in the garden....
I made a conscieneous decission to stop using slug pellets this year as I had installed a new pond and had tadpoles in it and also found out we had a family of hedgehogs living over the other side of the hedge. However, the rain here has been relentless this summer and had to resort to the little blue pellets - little is best I find - on the few days following me putting down the bait - I go round the garden with a bucket of very salty water and kitchen tongs and gather up every slug and snail I find - dead or alive - in they go. They die immediately - then disposed into the ordinary refuse bin they go!

Here is a link to a question I asked last year regarding a red insect which visited my garden in their droves last year - which are garden friends and I think were responsible for the lack of slugs in my garden in the earlier part of the year.....

16 Aug, 2012


I do know that snails have no problems gliding across very sharp granite, the silvery trails in my g`houses prove that on a regular basis...

16 Aug, 2012


Ah, well, thus proving that Sarra's comment re gravel is entirely accurate, Lincslass.

16 Aug, 2012


Most definitely, hence the blue pellets sprinkled in there at certain times...

16 Aug, 2012


Copper does work and so does Zinc. I have my Hostas (and seedlings) in large Zinc troughs and little slug damage (one got in when it was very wet one night and had a nibble - caught it the next day).

Egg shells are old wives tales. Dry soil does work. I have a border next to a garage and have very little slug damage as it is so dry. The wet areas of the garden get loads. I had to use blue pellets earlier this year as I was overwhelmed but not using them now as I pick them off at night and the drier weather has meant that they are just less of them (and I killed so many so far!)

17 Aug, 2012


I was informed that slug pellets only kill the slugs and snails and anything which eats them after that is not affected. i.e. the poison only kills once it does not survive in the body to kill the birds which eat the dead slugs and snails. Consequently I put down pellets now. I have no idea if it is true about them only killing the pests which feed on them but I have dozens of birds in the garden and all appear to be fit and well. I have never seen a bird eating the pellets apparently that is why they are coloured to stop birds being attracted to the pellets.

19 Aug, 2012


Let's set down our conclusions then.

1. Gravel doesn't work.

2. Eggshells don't work.

3. Frogs have limited use. And nobody has attempted ducks except Hugh F.W. at River Cottage and they decimated his garden worse than the gastropods.

4. Nematodes seem to work intermittently even if only for slugs, and can't be guaranteed.

5. Based on a small sample copper and zinc seem to have some effect, but only as a deterrent not as a method of killing them. It may be a sample of one but nobody has contradicted Kildermorie who has good sense so if you are looking for a definitely humane solution then this seems to be the best answer.

5. I know from experience that beer traps work but *not on a large scale as was needed this year*.

6. I agree with Kildermorie that dry soil works but is probably impractical for most plants.

7. Moving them miles away after kidnapping them in a lidded bucket seems to work but it has to be miles away. And where are their grand-kids going?

8. The most effective answer, but not for the squeamish, is blue pellets, which most people agree work, coupled with large boots and a torch on wet nights. But based on Scottish's contribution to the blog, let your neighbours know. :o)) And I'm still not sure about this 'animal friendly' label that they give them.

I've summed up as best I can, maybe someone else has other ideas, but this blog of course is still open so if you want to add please do.

19 Aug, 2012

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