Having trouble with slugs in your garden? They are members of the mollusk family and not insects. Their one inch long soft bodies are covered with a slimy mucus membrane causing them to be unattractive from the human point of view.

They are fast eaters of leafy green plants and therefore one of the more disliked garden “bugs”. They can live for years over-wintering in the soil and emerge in the spring to eat their way through your garden treasures. The slugs emerge at night and leave a trail of mucus as well as defoliated plants. They typically like a carefully mulched garden. Birds, beetles, turtles and snakes all like to dine on them but slugs only come out at night and usually are not disturbed by their enemies.

Numerous methods of killing slugs exist such as commercial slug baits and traps filled with beer. An alternative that keeps other critters away from the bait was created by Helmet Brodka from Renton, Washington. It requires an empty 2 liter soft drink bottle. Cut off the top end and drop a spoonful of slug bait in the bottom. Invert the pointed top end into the bottom section of the bottle. Staple the sides together in 3 places and place the trap in the garden next to a leafy plant. The slug will crawl in through the small opening attracted by the bait and not be able to get out. Use the bottle for several weeks and then discard. Start over again for you will never be able to get ride of all the slugs but you can keep them under control.

Jay Dickson, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


Are you plagued by slugs and really don’t want to spread slug bait all over the garden? Here is a clean method of using bait that won’t contaminate your soil. Cut a plastic soft drink bottle in two just where the neck joins the bottle. Turn the neck around and push it into the bottle bottom. Staple it if necessary. Place some bait in the bottle and hide the bottle under foliage. The slugs will be drawn to the bottle and crawl into the neck, and one of two things will happen: they will die from the bait or will be unable to find their way out and eventually die. When the bait is consumed (or the bottle is full), just throw it into the garbage, slugs and all. You can even be creative and spray paint the bottle to match the mulch or grass.

Keith Smith, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service


Snails and slugs are some of the most bothersome garden pests. A slug is basically a snail without a shell. While all have the ability to produce eggs, mating usually takes place from August until mid-October. Eggs can be laid from 30 to 40 days after mating.

The eggs are pearly gelatinous oval spheres filled with a watery substance, usually in clusters of 3 to 40. They range from 1/8 to 1/4-inch diameter. They can be white or colorless, often reflecting the color of their surroundings. In warm climates, it may take the eggs only 10 to 20 days to reach maturity. In cooler climates, it can be up to 100 days. The eggs will become cloudy just before hatching.

The eggs are generally laid on or near the soil surface. They can be concealed under such things as leaves, flower pots, rocks, and boards or in soil cracks. The site will be cool and provide moisture. The moisture is needed for them to hatch.

If you can hunt them now before they hatch, you will be saving yourself from future plant damage and endless effort catching them later.

Linda Sargent, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Posted in Pests and Pesticides