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Six ways to deal with slugs and snails

Published: 10th September, 2012

Dealing with slugs and snailsBlimey they’re slimy! Slugs and snails are every gardener’s sworn enemies, but they’re not easy to exterminate – in fact all you can really hope to do is keep them under control. And numbers are always up in wet years, so you may be experiencing even greater problems from them this year than normal. Ignoring the usual chemical or organic baits, here are six of the best alternative ways to combat them by taking the battle to the enemy:

Gather and destroy
Get some chopsticks and go to war. Capture them using the chopsticks and drop them into a bucket of salty or soapy water. Put a lid over the top so that the little blighters can’t escape. They will die. It might be best not to use the chopsticks for your next Chinese meal.

The honey trap
Lay a cunning and enticing trap consisting of a plastic ice-cream container or similar, containing stale beer (or a mixture of yeast and honey boiled in water) sunken into the ground so that your victims can just slither on in, attracted by the smell. They will drown.

Obstacle course
Slugs and snails don’t enjoy slithering over scratchy surfaces, so simply lay a barricade against them consisting of broken eggshells, sandpaper, cinders, wood ashes or sharp gravel around their favourite feeding zones.

Ambush them
The objective here is to offer the enemy a nice shady spot in which to shelter from daylight and sunshine. On a flat board, place inverted cabbage leaves, or peel from an orange, grapefruit or lemon. The slugs and snails will crawl under. All you have to do is check daily, dump the day’s victims, and then replace the leaves and peel.

Shock and awe
This may sound improbable, but the enemy can’t stand copper, because it gives them a small shock on contact. So just protect vulnerable shrubs and seedlings by placing a 7.5 cm (3 inch) copper band around trunks, plant pots, potting bench legs, etc. The band may need to be wider if you have particularly long slugs. Clean the copper with vinegar occasionally, to stop it tarnishing.

Send them on manoeuvres
If you don’t like killing them, just gather them up and take them somewhere else, such as the nearest forest or scrubland. Probably best not to throw them over your neighbour’s fence, as that would be rather provocative and unfriendly.