Most organic vegetable gardeners will tell you that slugs are their least favorite pests. 

Whether you want to get rid of slugs or just control them, there are ways to do it without chemicals or other harmful methods.

What You'll Learn

What Are Slugs?

Slug, Gastropod, is a soft-bodied, legless, gastropod mollusk found worldwide. They live in temperate climates and are often confused with a garden snail, which has a similar appearance and a shell.

The slug has an elongated body covered in velvety or glistening skin. The slugs are commonly found on trees, shrubs, and garden plants. They can be active at night, during the day, and during hot and cold weather. During day they will seek a cool and moist place to hide away from sunlight. Slugs can feed on various vegetation types and are not considered harmful to humans, although some varieties are toxic to pets and livestock.

Slugs are generally very easy to spot because they look pretty different from other invertebrates, such as earthworms and snails. They have a unique way of crawling by rolling onto their sides and then pulling themselves forward using their back foot. Their slime secretions make them slippery, and they use their back foot to propel themselves along. Because they do not have legs, they can easily climb over garden beads.

clean and tidy garden

What Does Slugs Eat?

Slugs prefer cool and rainy weather and are most active at night or during the day while it is raining. Almost all kinds of vegetables, spices, herbs, and ornamentals are on their menu. As the plants are young, the damage they cause in garden can be enormous. They use all the juicy plant parts for food, from leaves and stems to flowers and fruits.

In a short time, the slug can completely eat the plants that have just sprouted. That is especially the case with pumpkins, squash, melons, watermelons, and cucumbers, whose cotyledon leaves are a real treat for them. In vegetable gardens or greenhouses, slugs and snails cause big problems every gardening season.

They mainly feed on garden vegetables, but the damage has also been recorded on field crops, such as young wheat and oilseed rape. As for vegetables, they avoid garlic, but they can peel whole beds of freshly sprouted beans, lettuce, tomatoes, kale, strawberries, and various seedlings.

10 Best Ways To Get Rid Of Slugs Naturally

slug damage in garden

1. Control Slugs by Preventive Measures

Slug control and crop protection can be a long and demanding job. The primary preventive measure is yard hygiene, and the garden should be neat and maintained. It is not a place to store waste material, old and discarded items, or a place to dispose of woody materials.

Slugs and snails will look for tall uncut grass, compost material, bales of straw or hay, fallen leaves, planks, bricks, stones, and similar materials to make shelter and lay their eggs. The bigger the mess, the more pests you will have.

It is necessary to include various techniques of preventive control, from improving the quality and structure of the soil and plant selection as direct control measures. All this will serve those pests as a place where they hide and breed. 

slug eggs in soil

2. Protect your raised beds with sandpaper

It is a good idea to install sanding paper on the sides of your garden bed. You can buy sandpaper in rolls and staple them on every side of your garden beds. Slugs and snails will avoid climbing over the sharp areas. Medium 60 to 100 grades works well.

3. Prevent their movement

Slugs move on their foot which is rich in mucus. So, to prevent their movement, a means should be applied that will destroy their slime. For example, they won’t cross over sharp obstacles cause it is very painful for them. The sensitive parts stick to their feet, and they will leave such ground. Sand, stone flour, sawdust, coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, conifer needles, etc., can also be used.

slug on sand barrier

4. Coffee is Deadly For Young Slugs

In addition to sprinkling with coffee sediment, you can also use a regular cooked one. The coffee used as a slug suppressant is prepared the same way as for drinking use but put in a more significant amount to obtain a more robust flavor.

You can also use instant coffee. When it is cool, strain and treat the surfaces where the slugs move, as well as plants (beneficial when it comes to cabbage). The coffee treatment is deadly for young slugs and snails, but adults will be disoriented.

5. Lure Them With Beer

Did you know that many pests love beer? You can use this knowledge to get rid of them. Bury plastic bottles or cups in the ground so that the edge of the container is a little above ground level, and then pour beer inside.

The smell of beer will attract slugs but also some other beneficial insects. Give those bugs a chance to save by putting a small branch inside of the cup so they can climb.
Check and empty these baits regularly and replenish with beer if necessary. 

beer slug bait

6. Slug and Snail Repellent – From Slugs 

You can pick up slugs after rain and use them to make a solution that will repel other slugs and snails.
Put collected slugs in a bucket and soak them with hot water. Close the bucket, and after a few days, you’ll see the solution is foaming. You can pour this unpleasant-smelling liquid along with the place where the snails come, like canals, hedges, and moisten places.

This liquid with the smell of dead slugs decaying is very unpleasant for them, it warns them of danger, and they do not move over that barrier as long as the scent works.

They will also avoid plants sprayed with this solution, and even if the rain washes away the liquid, the smell of snails will remain on the plants. Use this method with care because vegetables sprayed with this liquid will smell like snails, so you should avoid spraying the parts of vegetables that we will eat.

7. Vinegar Also Serves As a Herbicide

You can use vinegar a proven preparation for treating plants and the surrounding soil to get rid of slugs. Dilute 50 ml of alcoholic vinegar with 2 gallons of water and spray in the evening. Be careful with the above solution because vinegar is also used as a herbicide. Applying this solution to untreated surfaces or the edge area is better to avoid possible herbicidal action.

8. Table Salt

Table salt causes dehydration when slugs and snails pass over it. The problem is that salt destroys plants and makes the soil barren and compacted. If you use this method as a slug repellent, apply salt on the edge surfaces where it will prevent them from entering the garden or flower bed.

companion planting as pest repellent

9. Companion Planting

Try planting specific plants that repel pests to prevent them from damaging our garden. Herbs that repel slugs and snails are wormwood, fennel, lavender, rosemary, gladiolus, thyme, and castor.

Chamomille and marigolds are great for deterring various pests; however, slugs love these plants and are attracted to them. If you live in areas where they are your main pest problem, you should avoid these plants or use them to distract them from other garden areas.

10. Nematodes 

Nematodes are becoming a crucial biological instrument in the fight against slugs. Because they are the exclusive parasites of snails, these nematodes are not dangerous to other organisms. Its advantage is that it is straightforward to apply, does not require protective equipment, and has no prescribed waiting period. The preparation is applied by watering with buckets or through an irrigation system.

The key to success is proper soil preparation. It is a slow and long-term best method.

slugs on vegetable


If you want to prevent slugs from invading your garden, you need to keep it clean and tidy. Slugs and snails are drawn to decaying food and young plants. They like to hide in places that are moist, cool, and dark and are active at night. You should avoid using any chemical pesticides because they are dangerous to humans and the environment. When growing vegetables and controlling pests, the best way is to use organic pest control. 



University of Minnesota