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.

The Nemaslug product used in this review was gifted to us by Nematodes Direct. We did not pay for it, and all views and opinions shared in the video are based entirely on our own experience.

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.

13 comments

Eddy Winko 14 July 2020 - 07:50

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 🙂
https://www.transitionculture.org/2012/07/13/the-four-slugs-of-the-apocalypse/

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Mars 14 July 2020 - 07:53

Thanks Eddy. We have got ducks, but they don’t venture into our veg garden because they have ample food at the pond. We just have so many slugs around, I don’t think the birds and ducks can keep up to be honest.

Will check out the other blog today. Great title.

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Steve Elliott 14 July 2020 - 09:32

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.

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Mars 14 July 2020 - 09:37

Eddy mentioned toads to me a while ago too. we have plenty of them around but they don’t seem that interested in the veg patch. They prefer to hang out in the long grass and around the pond. That’s the issue with smallholdings I suppose where you have a fields and there’s an abundance of food options.

I remain hopeful that the nematodes will succeed though. The more slugs you have, the better the chances of the nematodes succeeding, and we had loads.

Fingers crossed. An update will be posted in the next couple of weeks.

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Steve Elliott 14 July 2020 - 10:39

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.

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Mars 14 July 2020 - 11:08

Thanks Steve. We only have mallards around us. My wife is keen on ducks, so I’ll check Call Ducks out.

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A.V. Walters 14 July 2020 - 15:52

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.

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Michelle 15 July 2020 - 16:42

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!

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Mars 15 July 2020 - 17:51

Thank you Michelle. We appreciate your feedback.

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lovelyandgrateful 15 July 2020 - 21:53

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. 😔

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Mars 15 July 2020 - 21:56

I’ll definitely do a follow up in a couple of weeks. Slugs have been the bane of my existence.

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Mark Crooks 16 July 2020 - 08:15

You now need to deworm the cat!

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Mars 16 July 2020 - 08:18

The water on the brussel sprout leaves didn’t have any nematodes in it. It was dew and rain from the night before. Great observation though.

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