Slugs and Snails: How to cope with the number one garden pest.

10 June 2014 | Posted in Gardening by The Marshalls Family

A combination of warm weather at the start of the year and wet conditions  more recently has caused slug and snail populations to explode. Both of my courgettes which I planted out earlier in the month were stripped back to nothing and several of my other crops have been mauled close to death.

But all is not lost; there are plenty of effective organic and chemical methods to combat slug and snail problems. Admittedly it’s a never ending battle, however you can reduce symptoms so much that they become almost unnoticeable.  

Why So Many Slugs?

Snails and slugs have both male and female reproductive organs so finding a partner is, in theory, twice as easy for them than other non-hermaphroditic animals. In other words, they’re not picky.

They can lay up to 40 eggs at a time and as many as six times a year, that’s a potential of 240 sluglings in a year.

After the adult slug has laid a batch of eggs, they take on average a week to hatch. Sluglings become mature, and ready to reproduce in as little as three months.

The warm start to the year has meant that slugs and snails have woken from hibernation earlier, giving them a head start.  

Although it’s been fairly warm it’s also been wet, creating the perfect humid environment which slugs and snails love.

Control Methods


By far the most effective and efficient way to treat a slug problem is through chemical control and Grazers Slug and Snail Spray is one of the most effective on the market. When sprayed directly onto the foliage it is absorbed by the plant which means it is longer lasting than most other chemical controls that can be washed away by the rain. Grazers Slug and Snail Spray is a safe product that will not harm the environment and can be used on ornamentals as well as edibles, strengthening and stimulating plant growth too.


The organic method, whilst not as effective as chemical control, is 100% environmentally friendly and produces good results. A beer trap is a tried and tested method, proven to have a reasonable effect on slug populations and it’s cheap too. Simply pour a little bit of beer into a jar and sink it into the ground where your plants are growing; the slugs and snails are attracted by the smell and killed by the combination of alcohol and drowning. Don’t bother using a good beer though, any cheap one will do. 


Biological control is another organic method which uses natural insect predators to attack the pest.  Nemaslug slug killer contains millions of naturally occurring microscopic nematodes (Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita) that kill various species of garden slug, keelback slugs and round backed slugs as well as many. Unlike many chemical methods Nemaslug works better in wet conditions, when the nematodes are more active. Nemaslug is also harmless to wildlife and pets.


This is a very hands on method which might not be for the squeamish. It requires you to gather the slugs and snails from your patch and manually dispose of them. Immersing the captured slugs and snails in a high salt solution is the cleanest method but you can use scissors, or any sharp implement to kill them. Of course if you don’t want to kill them you can just transport them to a different site, make sure that it’s over 20m (65ft) away as new research has proven that they can’t find their way back.

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