Slugs are one of the biggest pests in your garden. Since they reproduce pretty quickly, no amount of catching or baiting will get rid of your slug problem. That means the only way to really free yourself of any slug infestation is to understand why you have slugs in the first place. That’s why today we’re covering what attracts slugs (and how to get rid of them).
What Are Slugs?
When you think of a slug, what do you imagine? If you’re like me, you’re probably imagining a slimy, gooey worm-like insect that oozes its way across the ground. To be fair—that’s pretty spot on—but, slugs are also a lot more than that.
Slugs are gastropods— which are a type of soft-bodied mollusk that’s related to snails. Unlike their shelled cousins though, slugs don’t have a protective shell and instead rely on their slimy mucus to keep themselves safe from predators. If you’ve ever touched a slug, you understand what we mean… Yuck.
But don’t let that soft and squishy exterior fool you. Slugs are actually incredibly adaptable. In fact, they can survive in a variety of climates—all the way from rainforests, to deserts, and all the way to the depths of the ocean.
9 Things That Slugs Can’t Get Enough Of
To keep slugs away from the precious fruits of your labor, you need to understand what they like. Here are the top 9 things slugs love:
If you’ve been gardening for a while, you probably already use organic mulch, such as hay, grass, wheat, straw, and so forth. Although these mulches are quite good for the plants, many slugs also like them. So, while you’re feeding your plants you’re also feeding the slugs. Additionally, mulch gives the slugs cover and moisture, making it the perfect environment for them to breed.
While there’s not a lot that you can do to keep slugs out of your mulch, we recommend using a gentle pesticide. Specifically, we recommend using this! It’s safe for pets and other animals, so it won’t harm your four-legged friend.
Tasty Little Seedlings
Slugs consume seedlings, which are the small beginnings of your plants. Slugs can consume all of your seedlings in only a few nights—which is concerning. Sometimes they simply eat the leaves, and other times they devour the stems. Thankfully, once your plants start to grow, slugs will lose interest in them—making it safe for your plants.
While you can use pesticides on seedlings, many products may harm your plants. It also takes time before the pesticide will become effective. So, instead of using pesticide, we recommend covering your seedlings with plastic bottles until they are established and robust enough for the slugs to leave them alone.
Rich Vegetables and Leafy Greens
Slugs thrive on leafy vegetables. Thus the more you cultivate them, the worse the slug problem will get. The good news is that some veggies, like garlic, will deter slugs. Additionally, green onions will also prevent slugs from coming into your garden. So, plant your onions and garlic as a companion crop with leafy greens.
One of my favorite vegetables is green onions. Seriously, you can put them on anything. If you’re interested in learning how to preserve and use all your green onions, I’ve made this complete guide for you!
Wet and Damp Areas
If you’re asking yourself what attracts slugs, the true answer is anything wet. Slugs cannot survive in hot or dry conditions but, they certainly thrive in a wet one. Wet areas make the perfect place for slugs to reproduce as well, so if you notice more slugs, you may need to locate the source.
If it frequently rains where you live, this is also the perfect climate for slugs. Remove weeds and grass from damp or shaded garden sections so slugs won’t have a place to hide.
Soggy and Moist Soil
Slugs prefer soil with poor drainage since the moisture stays in the soil for a long time. On the other hand, if you have sandy soil with short drainage, you won’t have a problem with slugs. However, if your soil contains clay, this may be an issue. That’s because slugs adore clay.
If you have clay soil raised beds are a must. Speaking of raised beds, we’ve got a ton of articles on them.
Slugs love hiding under things. That’s because it’s typically wetter, more humid, and shady under things like logs, rocks, and old boards. Although you will have limited luck with this method, some people try to catch slugs by placing these things on their property.
However, we think it’s more effective to eliminate any items in your garden that slugs might hide under. It’s simple: the less cover they have, the farther away they must crawl to stay safe.
Some species of slugs are cannibals. We know… Yuck. Therefore they won’t have any issues devouring deceased slugs.
The bad news is that if you are using pesticides to kill slugs, other slugs may come by to eat them. That means by killing slugs, you may also attract new slugs to your area. Of course, this is location dependent as cannibal slug species don’t live everywhere. Check your local extension office for more details on native species around you.
The bad news is that most of your plants require frequent watering—which slugs love. Since most slugs are nocturnal, it is a good idea to water your plants in the morning. However, if you have a major slug infestation, you may notice that slugs will emerge even during the day if you have just watered your plants.
To combat this, we use a drip-feed watering system. This way, the plants will receive moisture without attracting slugs.
As you can see, what attracts slugs can be different. Slugs will typically stay in your garden if it has a decent food source for them, such as green vegetables, seedlings, and decomposing plant waste. Cover your seedlings and leafy vegetables with plastic or a bug net to protect them from predators.