How to get rid of slugs & african snails

Written by bethany seeley
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How to get rid of slugs & african snails
Snails and slugs are a common garden pest. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Ordinary snails and slugs are a common garden pest. African snails are far less common, and not only are they illegal, they pose a serious threat to both humans and to the environment. According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, a snail with a shell of more than 2 inches can be considered an African land snail. Removal of these giant pests should not be attempted by the home gardener. Instead, the U.S. Department of Agriculture should be contacted. In the case of common garden snails and slugs, ridding your garden of them is easy and safe.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Flat boards or rocks
  • Newspaper or cardboard
  • Grapefruit
  • Cup
  • Beer
  • Sugar
  • Yeast
  • Garlic
  • Seaweed
  • Copper wire or sheets
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Lava rock
  • Coffee grounds
  • Household ammonia

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  1. 1

    Make your garden a place where snails and slugs feel unwelcome. They prefer to live in dark moist places, so eliminating these spots is key to making them feel unwelcome in your garden. Keep mulch less than 2 inches deep around your plants. Do not allow mulch to touch the stems of your plants. Water your garden in the morning, rather than in the evening, to minimise excess moisture that attracts slugs.

  2. 2

    Trap the slugs and snails overnight. Place things such as boards, flat rocks, sheets of amp newspaper or cardboard flat in your garden to attract slugs. Setting out empty grapefruit rinds will also attract them. Another solution is to fill a cup with either beer or a mixture of sugar, yeast and water, and bury it so that the lip of the cup is level with the surface of the soil. The slugs will fall in to the mixture and be unable to get out. Each morning, go through the garden and check the "traps" for slugs. Remove and discard any that you find.

  3. 3

    Use substances in your garden that will repel the slugs. Garlic and seaweed placed around the bases of your plants works well. Another alternative is to place thin sheets of copper or copper wire around the stems of your plants.

  4. 4

    Dehydrate the slugs or deter them from getting to your plants. Sprinkle them with diatomaceous earth, which is available at garden centres and hardware stores, or spray them with a mixture of 80 per cent household ammonia and 20 per cent water. Slugs cannot travel over hard surfaces, so sprinkling the ground with lava rock, and coffee grounds also will help to deter them.

Tips and warnings

  • If you see a snail that you believe is an African snail, contact the USDA's toll-free hotline at 888-703-4457.
  • Be careful when using coffee grounds in your garden; they can change the acidity of the soil.

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