"We are poisoning our wildlife….and it’s having a noticeable impact."
Whether you are an avid gardener, or an owner of a beloved four-legged friend, the presence of slugs is not a welcomed one for most people. Slug control is an on-going battle for many of us, and their hermaphroditic trait doesn’t make it easy! Slugs and snails have both female and male reproductive organs, meaning they reproduce asexually (without intercourse) and by the hundreds. Well covered eggs can lay dormant in the soil for years! And once they hatch, they wreak havoc on the vegetation surrounding them, stripping them back to nothing. Of course, for those who dedicate so much time to their gardens this is a particularly frustrating problem, and let’s not forget the paranoia of our pets. Slugs and snails carry a parasite called lungworm which can be passed onto dogs and cats possibly killing them.
In order to try and combat this pesky problem, many of us resort to using slug pellets, which when ingested, poison the slugs and eventually kills them. BUT, at what cost?
Whilst a pest for humans, slugs are a delicious meal for many wildlife species, such as hedgehogs, birds and even toads. The use of slug pellets is having a disastrous ripple effect, with our wildlife consuming their now toxic food, leading to their own death. We are poisoning our wildlife….and it’s having a noticeable impact.
There was hope that the government would recognise these cascading effects that are depleting our wildlife populations and would take action. However, the complete ban on the outdoor use of metaldehyde, (a pesticide used in the slug pellets as well as several other forms of slug control) which was due to be introduced across Great Britain from Spring 2020 was overturned.
So, what now? Well after doing some research it turns out there are quite a few alternatives to the toxic method so commonly used! I’ve put together what I believe to be 5 super practical, budget and time friendly solutions which every house is capable of adopting.
Cornmeal: You can pick up a bag of cornmeal from your local supermarket for less than £1.00 and slugs absolutely love it! Unfortunately for the slugs their tasty meal soon begins to expand inside them resulting in their death. For best results ensure the cornmeal remains dry by placing the cornmeal in a washed out, dry jar on its side. for extra protection from both the rain or pets and other garden critters, place a container such as a plant pot over the top of the jar, with a small cut our section to give the slugs access.
Turn your soil: As I mentioned previously, eggs can lay dormant in the soil for years before they hatch and start causing havoc in your garden, so regularly fluffing up your soil is likely to smash up the eggs before they are able to do so! This one may require a little more effort but consider it as your exercise for the day!
Catch them by hand: I know what you are thinking, who has the time to be rummaging around trying to track down slugs in their garden…. Well the trick is to bring them to you! Lure them in by leaving citrus rinds such as lemon, grapefruit or orange beside your plants that are being affected, or alternatively offer them a pint! Okay so not literally, but slugs like yeast and barley, so a beer trap works well in luring them in. However, if you don’t want to waste your beverages on your slimy pests then a cup of sugar or yeast with hot water will also do the trick!
Use Bran – NOT SALT: A lot of people will jump to salt as a means of slug control, however it actually ruins the soil and creates a drought like environment for your plants. Not to mention its danger to wildlife other than the slugs. The reason salt is so effective as means of slug control is because it acts as a desiccant, drying the slugs and snails out through quite literally sucking the moisture from their skin, which is essentially what kills them. Bran has exactly the same effect, minus the negative side effects of using salt, so switch up your salt control for bran!
Copper: The high permeability of their skin means that both slugs and snails do not like to touch copper. A chemical reaction occurs once they touch it giving them a nasty shock to their skin, so they will avoid crawling over it. Copper tape is a great option for lining the rim of your plant pots, and copper wire placed along your borders will also provide that ‘shock protection’.
So, there you have it! You are now fully kitted out for slug control without slug pellets. Of course, there are several other methods, but I wanted to ensure that the methods I selected were friendly for every house hold to try! If any of you give this a go, let me know which methods you like best in the comments below and don’t forget to share any other practical tips you have up your sleeves!