Pest or Guest, Friend or Foe?

Is there a point to slugs and snails?

And the answer is definitely yes and as wildlife gardeners, it’s important to understand these and to get to know your slugs and snails.  Both slugs and snails play a vital role in consuming decaying material whilst leaving nutrient-rich faeces which fertilises the soil.  In fact, some slugs only eat decaying matter and other slugs.   See the John Innes slug guide.

Why Wild Stroud has decided to run this project

Before we start this exploration of slugs and snails we would like to make the Wild Stroud position really clear.  Our role is to help and inspire people to do more for wildlife in their garden.  Our stance is that people should stop using pesticides, chemicals and peat in their garden.  We are aware that slugs and snails are an issue for people, including us.  So we are trying to educate and encourage people to adopt new behaviours.  These behaviours include creating and looking after predators, understanding the impact of habitat, transitioning to plants that slugs and snails don’t like, exploring natural ways of coping with slugs and snails.   If we are to adopt a pest control strategy then we have to make absolutely sure we only target the pests and not accidentally affect other species. We also want to both minimise the damage to wildlife and stay true to our use of organic principles which mean no chemicals.

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Slugs and Snails control

Natural ways to control slugs and snails from the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust click here

Read the RHS test of home remedies for slugs click here

A pesticide-free approach to slug control.

From our research, we recognise it is not possible to completely get rid of slugs and snails if you have a problem in your garden.  The RHS and the Pesticide Action Network recommend beer traps. Wild Stroud is not in favour of having them out all year we know the frustration of losing young plants.  Stroud Brewery and Wild Stroud have teamed up to supply organic beer slops for slug traps.  You need to register to receive instructions on how to collect your beer and be kept up-to-date as we add other locations click here

Really interesting facts about slugs and snails

We’ve found so many interesting facts that we’ve created a list which you can see by clicking here.  We would normally choose a site and send the link there but many of the sites have so many advertisements that we’ve decided to make our own list.  Click here to read it

Meet one you want to keep

If you open up your compost heap the chances are you’ll come across a slug that looks like this.  The fact that this slug chooses to live in your compost heap tells you it lives on decaying.  It’s busy chewing it up and pooing it out and along with the worms it’s doing a good job so leave it there.  Not all slugs are compost slugs so dropping a slug you found eating your lettuces or cabbage plants is not a solution.

Control Slug and Snail habitat

One of the ways to slow down the damage caused by slugs and snails is to control the habitat around the plants you want to protect.  We going to focus on veggie gardens here and talk about personal learning.  If you plant your new baby cabbage plants right next to a lovely thick patch of flat leave parsley and it rains the chances are the next day the cabbages will have been munched.  If we are having a dry spell they stand a chance of making it as the slugs don’t really like crossing dry soil.  Slugs will travel quite a way overnight, particularly if it is wet.  Make sure you keep the ground around the plants you want to protect clear of debris.  Using chopped-off bottles and milk containers you can provide some protection by planting your young plants inside these.  Make sure you push them well into the soil as slugs will dig down into the soil

Slug Traps

You can recycle many household bottles or tubs into beer traps.  It’s important to have a lid so you stop the rain from getting in and keep other insects out.

  1. If using a milk bottle make the holes as near the handle as possible so you can carry it upright with beer in it.
  2. Put a little carpet or gaffer tape over the edges to make it smoother.
  3. Make the holes in the side of your container high enough that beetles and other insects cannot crawl in.
  4. You could put a small stick in it to allow any flying insects that do get in to get out.

We suggest you can the beer every few days, just tip it in your compost or your food waste bin.