Organic Pest Control

A new gardener emailed asking about organic methods of slug control. He said he’d been seeing some success with the beer trap, but needed more.

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I thought I’d bring the rest of the readers in and we can all chat about our pest control methods.

First, the Beer Trap he mentioned. This is a super simple setup. Take something like a yogurt or sour cream container and burying it so the lip is at ground level. Fill it with beer. The yeasty goodness attracts the slugs, and they drown in the tub.

I told him the only other one I knew of was diatomaceous earth. DE is a white powder made from the fossilized remains of diatoms, which are super sharp and rip into the slimy slugs when they try to slime over it. So to use it best, you can put a ring of it around your plants. You can also dust individual plants, just powder the leaves, if there’s a plant getting serious slug pressure.  USE PROTECTION when you handle this though, mask and gloves are not out of line.

Slug pressure is light here in NW Iowa, so I’m able to control things with hand picking. Gross, I know, but extremely effective and time efficient for my situation.

I’ve heard ducks will eat slugs, if you have enough to do that trick.

There is one solution I found online, Copper Strips. When a slug crosses a copper barrier, its moist, mucusy body reacts with the copper and it receives an electric shock. Copper barriers can be pushed into the soil to make a vertical fence around a plant or bed, or laid flat. Either way, use 2- to 3-inch strips.  That seems rather novel, and extremely long lasting. I wonder if you could DIY something with pennies? Somebody get on that stat, and report back.

Does anybody else have a slug repellent? Shout out in the comments!  We can discuss other pests too if someone has a specific problem.

– Calamity Jane

13 comments… add one
  • SD3 February 27, 2014, 9:17 am

    Discarded copper wire is basically ‘ree for the taking’. I’ll give this theory a try.

    Reply
  • Roseman February 27, 2014, 9:41 am

    Crushed egg shells work well. Encircle the base of each plant as your instructions for DE above. The shells fragment into sharp pieces.
    They are also good for the soil.

    Reply
    • Roseman February 27, 2014, 9:47 am

      Fragment the shells in a food processor.

      Reply
  • TinMan February 27, 2014, 11:18 am

    Just a cautionary note about Diatomacious earth. I/ we are gardeners, goat herders and bee keepers. We had an invasion of slugs one year and I got a bit over zealous with applying the DE. Please note I found it (DE0 effective in slug eradication when placed around the plants and on the leaves. But I put too much on and covered most of the flowers on my squash and cabbages. I inadvertently almost wiped out my bees…. Please do not cover the flowering parts of the plant and keep them free for the bees to forage.
    I also find DE effective in the goat barn. Placing DE down on the floor before I place straw bedding for the goats, keeps the fly eggs down to a minimum. It also keeps the goat smell down so it’s actually pleasant in the barn.

    Reply
  • smokechecktim February 27, 2014, 11:39 am

    I’ve tried DE with some success. Do you have any homemade remedies for snails?

    Reply
  • anonymous February 27, 2014, 12:56 pm

    I have attached a “ribbon” of copper mesh (aprox. 6″ wide) around the perimeter of my raised beds, near the top of the boards. This seems to be somewhat effective. Knock on wood, no slugs in the garden last year. I bought this product online.

    Reply
  • Valleydeere February 27, 2014, 8:57 pm

    I use beer traps as well as coffee grinds. I spread the coffee grinds around like you described DE. If you don’t drink coffee, or need more grinds you can usually get some from local coffee shops.

    Reply
  • Marc February 27, 2014, 9:03 pm

    I had great success two years ago with the beer trap. I noticed one evening several slugs and slug damage on my one row of 12 cabbage plants. I proceeded to pick them off the plants with needle nose pliers, I may have gotten 15 or so. Before it got dark out I set out two pie tins filled with beer. The next day I was amazed to find the tins full of slugs, the count was around 150.
    Also if you sprinkle salt on the ones you can see it does them in.

    Reply
  • Road Warrior February 28, 2014, 9:13 am

    I tried small copper strips around my plants, to no avail…maybe they have to be taller? The ones I used were about 3/4″ tall. Slugs still got over ’em and eradicated my sunflowers last year. Maybe I just have super mutant diehard slugs.

    Reply
    • Calamity Jane February 28, 2014, 8:24 pm

      I think it’s more a width thing, more than a height thing. It has to be wide enough to get a good chunk of the slug on it for the shock.

      Reply
  • riverrider February 28, 2014, 7:29 pm

    we had slugs terrible at my old house. i put down table salt, no more slugs, at least until it washed away. just reapply after rain.

    Reply
  • DaveP March 2, 2014, 2:57 pm

    If you don’t want to part with your delicious beer, I’ve used Coke also…the slugs get all foamy and die a horrible death. Awesome.

    Reply
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