Home   Mildenhall   Article

Subscribe Now

How can you get rid of slugs now that pellets containing metaldehyde have been banned and how useful is crushed egg shells or beer?



More news, no ads

LEARN MORE


Slug pellets have been banned because of the dangers they pose to wildlife and the environment.

Metaldehyde, the main pesticide in most slug pellets, has been used widely to control slugs and snails in gardens and on farms for years but can no longer be used in Great Britain because of the associated risks for pets, the environment and other small animals such as hedgehogs and birds.

Slug pellets containing metaldehyde cannot be used anymore. Image: Stock photo.
Slug pellets containing metaldehyde cannot be used anymore. Image: Stock photo.

Anyone left with small quantities of pellets they bought to use in their garden should not get rid of them at home or through their weekly bin collection but instead take any leftover packets to local authority waste facilities to be disposed of.

While slugs can cause significant damage plants and crops, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says pesticides containing ferric phosphate can instead provide 'effective control' without carrying the same risks as metaldehyde pellets.

But what else can gardeners to to keep slugs and snails away from new plants as the warmer weather edges in?

Save those egg shells after breakfast as a protective slug barrier
Save those egg shells after breakfast as a protective slug barrier

Lay down a protective barrier

Copper slug tape can be an effective way to repel slugs and snails, say experts, particularly from pots where it is easy to use. It is self adhesive and doesn't look unattractive in the garden, weathering with age, but the small electrical charge it gives off can create a natural barrier.

Crushed egg shells, bark, human hair and even soot are also among the items the RSPB suggests can make for successful natural fences to keep the hungry pests away. Sprinkled on the ground around plants or pots, this method can be somewhat weather dependent and likely to be washed away or softened in rain, but the barrier can dry out the slime slugs move around on or irritate them enough that they will choose not to cross it.

Because of its tendency to be less successful in bad weather it can also be a helpful tip for greenhouses or cloches experiencing an infestation.

Damp cardboard or carpet can be used to create slug traps. Image: iStock.
Damp cardboard or carpet can be used to create slug traps. Image: iStock.

Cardboard or carpet traps

It's perhaps not the most attractive of methods but the slugs are attracted to damp cardboard or wet carpet which can be used as an effective trap enabling you to collect them.
Moist carpet or cardboard is something they are keen to hide under and so every day you can lift the trap and scrape those hiding underneath into a bucket to be disposed of.

Slugs can quickly eat their way through crops and plants. Photo: Stock photo.
Slugs can quickly eat their way through crops and plants. Photo: Stock photo.

Handpicking after rain

Slugs collect, says the RSPB, in cool damp spots and on damp evenings they will be out and about in force and so this is the ideal time to head out and see if there's any you can scoop up.

A set of rubber gloves, a bucket and a torch can all be handy tools to use and a quick scout around the garden, plant pots and among the flower beds of an evening after a rain shower might help you save individual plants even if it doesn't successfully control the overall population of slugs and snails that are in your garden in the longer term.

Gardeners may need to find fresh ways to keep out slimy pests this summer. Image: iStock.
Gardeners may need to find fresh ways to keep out slimy pests this summer. Image: iStock.

Leave them a drink

Nicknamed the 'slug pub' - slugs are attracted to the smell of the beer and in particular lager.

A small pot, shallow cup or small tin can - like that used for a tin of tuna - full to the brim with beer is guaranteed to see some garden punters sliding in for a drink.

A sacrificial crop might keep slugs away from plants you want to protect. Image: iStock photo.
A sacrificial crop might keep slugs away from plants you want to protect. Image: iStock photo.

Give them something to eat

If it's not lettuce that you're looking to keep the slugs away from then tempting them with something they do enjoy eating might be bait enough to keep them off your other plants.

A spring planted bed of lettuce can be a real treat for slugs keen on a good meal and it may be possible to keep them away from the plants you're trying to protect by growing lettuce or cabbage leaves between them and having a sacrificial crop. Slugs will also tend to collect under these leaves after a feast so it can also be a way to collect any that are regularly tucking in.

But if the slugs are still keen on eating into particular plants and enjoying them far more than you'll ever get the chance to because they'll just munch until they're gone, the RSPB suggests cutting your losses and growing something else instead.

Its advice reads: "Gardeners too often want to grow things that aren't suited to their site. In the case of plants that are very susceptible to slugs, this isn't really worth the effort.

"If, for example, the slugs get more out of your hostas each year than you do, the answer is to give up on the hostas and try something else.

"Alternatively, these plants can be grown in rough wooden tubs or terracotta pots, out of the reach of slugs."