Photo by: SteveR-
How to Control Snails and Slugs Naturally
The gardening season is just around the corner. Small greenhouses are being set up in store lots. People are busy getting their gardens ready for planting. You know who else is getting ready for gardening? Snails and slugs. This year, instead of grabbing the chemical sprays, why not try eradicating those pests by natural methods. It is safer on the plants and environment and for your consumption. Slugs and snails are more active during the nighttime hours, or when the days are cloudy.
Pick Them Off
Slugs and snails love the garden almost as much as you do. They can’t resist the moist environment that your garden offers. If you only have a few snails or slugs, you can pick them off by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water.
Slug or Snail Baits
We often pour some beer into a low-sided saucer and bury it so it is almost level with the ground. The snails can crawl into the saucer, but are unable to make their way out again. Another alternative is to dissolve one package of yeast, 1-teaspoon salt, 1-teaspoon sugar in 2 cups of warm water. Pour this into a jar. Plan to fill one jar for every 6 to 7 feet of your garden space where slugs are a problem. Dig holes in the garden soil to bury the jars up to the mouth. It should be just about level with the soil. Check the jars daily and remove the slugs that have gone inside. You can substitute the yeast or beer with grape juice or cider vinegar.
Sprinkle egg shells over the garden soil around your plants. They will cut the bodies of soft-shelled insects. Food-grade diamactaceous earth works the same and is very safe to sprinkle throughout your garden. It looks like talc powder, and it is made of fossilized marine phytoplankton. As the snails make their way across this substance, it cuts through their exoskeletons like razor blades. Diamactaceous earth not only kills slugs and snails, it also kills fleas, ants, and bed bugs.
Snails or slugs on fruit trees or in planter boxes are controlled with copper foil. You will need a length of copper foil that will fit around the diameter of your fruit tree with an extra 8 to 10 inches. Cut vertical slits along the length of the foil on one side, but do not cut all the way through. When you are finished, it will look like fringe. Wrap the copper foil around the trunk of the tree. Attach one end of the copper foil to the tree or planter box with a staple. Overlap the ends and fasten it with a paperclip. This will allow the copper foil to slide as the tree grows. Bend the vertical flaps so they are at a 90-degree angle.
Introduce natural enemies to the garden area that will eat the slugs. Birds, toads, and beetles will keep the slug/snail numbers down and many other insects as well. Decollate snails will only eat small snails, so they would be great to use at the start of the gardening season.
Whenever possible, it is best to use natural methods to control insect. Chemical pesticides and insecticides will kill the insects, but they are non-selective. They kill good and bad insects. The chemicals can also go into the food that you eat.