Fighting slugs organically and naturally using nematodes

by Mars

In April, I posted my concerns about slugs and snails, but nothing could have prepared me for what ensued in June; fighting slugs has undeniably become our number one priority in the veg garden.

The slugs arrive in vast and unrelenting numbers and devastate leafy crops like lettuce, spinach and kale overnight. It’s not surprising that there are more home remedies for fighting slugs than any other gardening foe.

I’m also learning very quickly that there isn’t a single solution to deal with slugs, and you need an assortment of strategies.

So far we’ve used copper rings, set traps and picked them off by hand, and we have now resorted to a nematode approach using a product called Nemaslug.

Nematodes are microscopic, parasitic worms that release bacteria into their targeted hosts, which kills them. Nematodes are a natural way of fighting off slugs and do not adversely affect or harm any other creatures or animals.

The nematodes in Nemaslug (Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita) arrive in a paste that you need to dissolve in water to make a solution and then apply to soil around plants that have been targeted by slugs. We’ve shown and demonstrated all of this in the video above.

It’s now a waiting game, and over the next fortnight we are going to see whether the nematodes have helped reduced the number of slugs in our veg garden. We will let you know whether the nematodes have been a success.

Additional information about slugs

Slugs are classified as mollusks and there are 80,000 species on earth that reside on land and in water.

Slugs are essentially snails without shells and get around using their muscular foot that glides on mucus slime. When this mucus dries it leaves a silvery telltale sign that we’re all familiar with.

Slugs are capable of laying 500 eggs in batches of 30-80. The peak egg laying windows occur in March-April and September-October.

They do most of their damage to young seedlings and low-growing fruits, such as strawberries. They can devastate entire veg gardens if left unchecked.

In an orchard, snails and slugs are beneficial because they eat fallen rotting fruit, but they will climb a tree for fresh fruit as well. Our orchard, for the moment, has not been affected by slugs.

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Eddy Winko
3 years ago

Ducks! Not that I can talk from experience, but I’m told that ducks can help control slugs.
I also remembered this post from another blog that I stumbled across in my own search for slug control years ago 🙂

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
3 years ago

I used to know a man who had a large vegetable plot on a sewage works, believe it or not. He started the plot when he worked on the sewage works and when he retired they allowed him to keep it going. I sometimes worked there and used to chat with him. His plot had a narrow cinder path all around the edge and every year he’d pour salt along the path until the path was thoroughly impregnated. It stopped any new slugs moving in. Then beer traps inside the plot to remove slugs already there. He reckoned it worked. It was a big plot, perhaps half an allotment.

Toads eat slugs so anything you can do to encourage them is good.

I’ve never tried ducks but I believe you have to have a small species otherwise they will trample small plants. I’ve heard you can put ducks and chickens into a vegetable plot in the winter when there’s little growing and they’ll clear some of the pests.

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
3 years ago

My wife says that Call Ducks are the ones you need for slug control. She knows more about ducks than me. Another natural predator is the ground beetle and you can do things to encourage those. I think you are right when you say there isn’t a single solution.

I’m not an expert by the way. Nowhere near. We muddle through.

A.V. Walters
3 years ago

My niece has used ducks to control slugs, very effectively. She has so many slugs (wet, swampy location) that she hardly has to feed the ducks during the summer. And she gets eggs.

I’ll be trying beneficial nematodes this year to control for rose chafers. It’s a long term solution, as the nematodes work on the larvae–thereby preventing the next year’s orchard damage.

3 years ago

Best of luck, really hope it works, please let us know! I for one would definitely like to try it. This is a really informative post, thanks for sharing!

3 years ago

I’ll be very interested to know if this works as slugs are such a pest in my garden, devouring my courgettes, squash, sunflowers and hosta. ????

Mark Crooks
Mark Crooks
3 years ago

You now need to deworm the cat!

10 months ago

I live in London and had a terrible rat problem. (Now resolved, tho we still get the odd visitor to our small garden) and one up side was that snail and slug numbers dropped loads.. I’m really certain it was the rats as I filmed them and found piles of empty semi crushed snail shells under a step where they were going..

So if you can face having rats nearby..! But maybe a hedgehog can be encouraged..

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