Slugs are a common garden pest and love eating plants and rotting organic matter. If you store your plants in protective tubs, can slugs eat through the plastic?
Slugs can eat through thin and weak plastic but will only do this to gain access to food. Their mouths are too small and weak to eat through a plant pot’s thick plastic.
Read further to discover how slugs damage plants and how to get rid of and prevent them.
Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Snails Eating Through Plastic
Slugs may occasionally be able to eat through weak plastic bags, but they definitely won’t get through denser plastic. The main situation where it could be a problem is if they manage to eat through a carrier bag holding a plant. Even then, they’re more likely to simply climb up the bag.
Plastic damage isn’t really something to worry about with slugs, but they can still do damage to your plants.
How Do Slugs Damage Plants?
Slugs damage plants by using their mouths to create tiny holes. Their mouths have sharp edges which continuously lash at food sources. With severe slug infestations, plants and vegetables can become weak and die in extreme cases.
Most damage caused by slugs is superficial. Plants can look unhealthy with tiny holes in their leaves and stems. Slug damage to vegetables can make them look unappetizing and unhygienic.
Slugs secrete mucus to help them move around, and an easy way to determine if you have slugs in your garden is to look out for silvery slime trails. Slug mucous doesn’t damage plants but can make them look messy and dirty.
How to Prevent Slugs
Knowing how slugs can damage plants and vegetables, you’re probably keen to eliminate any slugs in your garden.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to eradicate slugs from your garden entirely—they will always return. The best you can do is decrease the slug population significantly to keep your plants and vegetables healthy.
Since greenhouses are sealed, eliminating the slugs might solve the problem permanently in these cases.
Here are some helpful ways to prevent slugs in your garden:
Set a Trap and Remove Them
Slugs are attracted to dark, cool, and moist places, and setting a trap with these characteristics is simple. After leaving the trap overnight, you’d be amazed at how many slugs you attract and can remove from your garden.
Here are a few slug trap ideas:
- Damp paper. Moisten some newspaper, a magazine, or a large piece of paper to create an irresistible shelter for slugs. Leave it overnight, and remove the slugs sheltering underneath.
- Beer trap. Slugs love the taste of yeast and can’t resist beer. Fill a small container halfway with beer, place it in the ground, and leave it out overnight for the slugs. After finding the beer, they will fall into it and drown.
- Homemade slug bait. You can make slug bait from items you likely already have in your kitchen: water, maple syrup, yeast, and flour. After combining two cups of water, two teaspoons of maple syrup, one teaspoon of yeast, and two teaspoons of flour, mix it well and leave it out for the slugs.
Slugicide is any substance that kills slugs. There are various slug poisons that you can use, but some are toxic to dogs, cats, and humans, so you may want to avoid these.
Here are some options to consider:
- Slug pellets or granules. Slug pellets usually contain iron phosphate or metaldehyde, killing them within minutes. This solution isn’t suitable if you have pets, as slug pellets can make them vomit or become seriously ill if they eat them in large quantities.
- Salt. Sprinkling salt over slugs or on the areas that they frequent will dehydrate and kill them. This is a simple and cost-effective solution.
- Pet-safe slug killer. You might consider using a pet-safe slug killer if you have a dog or cat. Monterey LG6575 Sluggo Plus from Amazon is pet-safe and is effective, even after it’s rained.
Make Your Garden Hostile to Slugs
An effective way of deterring slugs is to make your garden a hostile place for them. There are many ways to do this:
Remove Slug Shelters
Slugs like to live in dark, sheltered, moist, and cool places. Removing this habitat type will make slugs less likely to make a home in your garden.
Inspect your garden and remove items that would create the ideal slug habitat:
- Beds of leaves
- Low-hanging branches and shrubs
- Loose stones and rocks
Introduce Plants That Slugs Hate
Slugs will avoid areas containing plants, herbs, and vegetables with a strong aroma. They’re also not fans of thick-leaved plants, as their mouths aren’t powerful enough to chew through the plant matter.
Below are a few examples of things you could plant to deter slugs:
- Herbs, such as lavender, fennel, rosemary, and catmint.
- Flowers, including hydrangeas and geraniums.
- Alliums, such as onions, garlic, and leeks.
- Seaweed. Slugs hate seaweed because it’s salty, and placing chopped-up seaweed near your plants provides nourishment and deters slugs.
Create Slippery and Sharp Slug Barriers
As invertebrates, slugs have soft bodies and will avoid sharp surfaces that could damage their soft tissue.
They also have only one foot, making moving around slow and challenging. Surfaces that are too slippery inhibit their movement, and slugs will avoid such places.
You could create sharp or slippery barriers to prevent slugs from damaging your plants and living in your garden.
Examples of sharp barriers include:
- Dry sand or gravel
- Pine needles
- Crushed eggshells
- Textured mulches
- Small cactus plants
If you’d like to make a slippery barrier, consider placing some essential oil on plants and their containers.
Encourage Slug Predators
Slugs are low down on the food chain and have many natural predators. If you want to control them naturally, consider encouraging natural predators into your garden.
Here’s how to use predators as slug control:
Make Your Garden Bird-Friendly
Slugs are tasty snacks for many bird species, including:
Making your garden bird-friendly is an easy method for encouraging slug predators. You can do this by installing bird feeders and bird baths throughout your backyard, and you just need to remember to keep them filled with food and water.
Build a Pond
A pond is an attractive feature for any garden, and if slugs have been the bane of your existence, a pond can help you get rid of them.
Ponds encourage toads, newts, and frogs, which love eating slugs. They also attract waterbirds that enjoy eating insects and slugs.
Introduce Nematodes to the Soil
Nematodes are tiny, soil-dwelling worms that infect slugs through their mouth openings. Once the slug is infected, the nematodes will decompose and kill them.
You can buy a container of nematodes from your local nursery, or order some online. After introducing them to the soil, your slug problem should improve in a few days.
Get Ducks or Hens
If you live in a rural area with a large garden plagued by slugs, getting ducks or hens can help control the slug population.
Hens provide fresh eggs almost daily, while ducks are easy to care for and add character to any garden.
Create Physical Barriers Around Vulnerable Plants
Slugs love munching on young plants at the seedling stage, as the plant tissue is tender and full of nutrients.
Other favorite food for slugs includes:
- Flowers, including marigolds, sunflowers, dandelions, and asters.
- Tubers, such as potatoes
- Leafy vegetables
- Herbs, such as dill and basil
Slugs are spoiled for choice in your garden during the spring when seedlings are abundant. Although they eat a wide variety of plants and flowers, if you protect them as much as possible, you can bring down the slug population by removing much of their food source.
No one enjoys seeing the damage that slugs inflict on their plants and garden vegetables. While it’s impossible to eliminate slugs from your garden completely, there are many ways to decrease the population:
- Use a slug trap
- Use slugicide
- Make your garden hostile to slugs
- Encourage slug predators
- Create physical barriers around vulnerable plants