We’ve found that using DIY methods to get rid of slugs, like beer traps and eggshells, don’t work very well compared to slug pellets. However, on the plus side organic pellets are just as effective as non-organic ones.
Slugs and snails regularly top lists of the most troublesome garden pests.
They can especially wreak havoc at this time of year, munching through tender young shoots and precious seedlings.
We’ve found that slug pellets are by far the most effective way to deal with these slimy foes in our Which? Gardening trials.
But although you’re better off sticking to slug pellets, the good news is that our most recent test has shown that organic pellets, based on ferric phosphate, are just as effective as non-organic ones, based on metaldehyde.
The organic pellets have the added advantage of being harmless to wildlife and pets – and the slugs go underground to die, rather than expiring messily in your borders.
Most slug pellet alternatives ineffective
There are lots of home-made methods to tackle slugs and snails. When we surveyed 2,000 readers recently, the top methods (aside from slug pellets) were: copper tape around pots and plants, ducks and geese, nematodes and removing them by hand.
Devotees of the latter say they can collect 200 an hour in warm, damp weather. But what do they do with 200 slugs? Some snip them in half, others leave them for the birds.
Of course, many people swear by DIY methods, such as putting beer traps and grainy barriers around their plants (they interfere with slugs’ slime glands). But we tested five branded granular products in the past and none proved very effective. And in the case of beer traps, we found that insects such as beetles and centipedes fell into them too
DIY barriers – such as soot, bran, eggshells and sand – were easily breached by wind, rain and animal activities, so they must be topped up regularly. Copper rings were the only barrier that proved pretty effective. Although, unless plants are well-spaced, leaves may soon grow over a barrier, providing an alternative route for slugs and snails.
One thing’s for certain, though – few of us can stand by and let slugs and snails do their worst. So what’s your plan of attack going to be this spring? Do you find that some DIY methods work for you, or will you take our advice and plump for organic slug pellets?