How to beat the slugs at their own game

Slug damaged hostas

Slug damaged hostas

Slugs. Hate them or despise them, it’s difficult not to loathe them. They have a habit of knowing when to turn up, just in time to eat the freshest shoots, the choicest foliage and destroy your prized flowers and vegetables completely. If only there were a failsafe way to get rid of them.

We’ve all tried hurling them over the fence, dispatching them to fresh grazing on the neighbour’s patch, but it sadly doesn’t work. Slugs have a homing device and can travel far further in a single night than you might imagine.

Those of us who enjoy watching wildlife buzzing around our garden, and want to avoid chemicals as much as possible, will be avoiding the little blue pellets. They don’t work well anyway, and are a danger to hedgehogs and other wildlife. So what should we be using instead? Well I’ve tried and tested many different ecological and wildlife safe options over the years so here’s my definitive report on what works when it comes to beating the slugs at their own game.


Yes, you heard right, I treat my local slugs to the finest, (ok the cheapest) ale that the supermarket has to offer. It seems generous, but who wouldn’t want to ensure the slimy creatures have a happy end to their munching days? Tip: Cut the ends off an old squash bottle and use as shallow traps, buried up to their necks in soil next to your precious seedlings. Fill with beer and the slugs will be attracted to the traps instead of your precious crops. Empty regularly and refill. Problem solved.


Another very cheap option is to collect old eggshells. Every time you make an omelette, meringue or French toast simply pop the shells into a sealed tub (they won’t smell that nice after a while but if it’s sealed it won’t matter) where they can dry out. Then, when you have collected a handfull, crush them and sprinkle generously around your hostas and delphiniums. The slugs don’t like crawling over their crunchy, spiky shells and will avoid the area. Tip: This option lasts a long time and doesn’t get affected by rain but you may need to revisit and re-sprinkle if you’ve mulched or dug around the plants recently, to ensure your precious plants are properly surrounded, especially where leaves reach down to the ground level.

Garlic spray

Possibly the most effective solution to really keep the nasties at bay, this option does involve a little cooking. Concoct your magical spray by boiling 2 complete garlic heads in a little water, then mashing. Mix the resultant paste in a litre of water and keep it in a spray bottle to use on your crops and new plants. It’s extremely effective! Tip: The garlic’s effect is diminished in heavy rain so be sure to revisit your plants with the spray after it’s poured it down.

Best of all, I’ve made sure I didn’t fall into the trap of illustrating this piece with a magnified pic of a slug. Nobody needs to see one of those over breakfast, do they?

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