Snail/Slug Control Options

ECHO’s agricultural staff often receives questions about ways to control snails naturally. Snails and slugs have rasping mouth parts that make their damage to leaves sometimes look like lace. They like moist, shady conditions and typically feed at night or early in the morning.

One of the best methods of controlling slugs or snails is the use of chickens or ducks which eat them. This may not be feasible though, if the fowl would also damage your crop. Other predators of snails include frogs, toads, certain birds, snakes, and certain beetles (OISAT, n.d.). Some cultural control options are to remove alternative shelter for the pests by cleaning out weeds and allowing sunlight into the lower canopy of the crop. If you have an area that is heavily infested with snails, you can try plowing the soil before or after a crop cycle to expose the pests to the sun and predators. Leaving the area without a crop for a brief time will also remove shelter and food for them and cause them to move on to other areas (OISAT, n.d.). Snails like high organic matter so leaving lots of organic matter in your growing area may encourage snails.

OISAT outlines some curative control options on their website here: Curative control

If you try any of the ideas on OISAT’s website or have your own control ideas, please share your experience on this ECHO Conversation for others to learn about!

OISAT. n.d. “Slugs.” Online Information Service for Non-Chemical Pest Management in the Tropics. PAN Germany.


haha as a Brit we’re well versed in slug control but have also dealt with snail epidemics in Nepal. I used to live at 1000’ in wet Wales where in the evening you could go into the garden and hear the slugs munching away there were so many. The 2 main principles are 1. use multiple techniques and 2. hit them hard early in the season to get the population down, then keep hitting them! You’re right about ducks being the best control (not chckens) - Mollison said “you haven’t got a problem of an excess of slugs, you have a deficit of ducks”. Most successful techniques for me were 1. beer traps (sunken bowls/tubs of beer - dregs are ok). A friend would harvest the drowned slugs, ferment them and spray the “juice” so any slug pathogens that appear are then spread - extreme!; 2. purchased nematodes - mix in water & spray on the soil - very effective for up to 6 weeks - so 2 treatments pretty much covered the early growing season at least; 3. planks laid on paths/edges where they hang out in the day time and can be harvested. Then, supporting strategies are: predator habitat for sloworms, frogs, snakes, birds, beetles, etc. (so ponds, rock piles, brash piles, etc.); decoy crops which they prefer to your veg; plant crops that slugs won’t eat (pnating out large well developed seedlings instead of young tender ones falls into this category); keep the soil bare (don’t like that one) through regular hoeing; barrier methods e.g. sprinkle ash (when not raining) or crushed egg shells, or an extreme to use copper wire/strips as a barrier; a French volunteer taught farmers how to cook & eat snails during an epidemic in Nepal! Ducks take a lot of beating though, and if you graze them at key times they don’t damage crops much (they don’t scratch like chickens) - I saw a system where the veg garden was located in between the duck house & the pond so they travelled through the garden on the way from 1 to the other morning & evening, grazing slugs & snails as they go! And of course you get the extra yield. Could go on but hopefully you get the idea. Be interested to hear others’ experiences…


I confirm the efficiency of beer traps, altough as a German Ifeel always a bit sorry to share my beer with the snails :slight_smile:


Not to make a serious problem too light, but as Chris said, find someone that has been influenced by the French or has a cultural palette different from most Westerners. In our neck of the woods, the kids love to cook these guys and on a good morning you can fill a 10L bucket without too much trouble!

While each ethnic group is different, there are many in West Africa that will eat these (and there are initiatives to actually start farming these) and even within ethnic groups it seems like there is quite a bit of variation from people that won’t even touch them to people who’d get mad that you didn’t invite them over to come get some good eatin’ out of your garden.


I agree Dr Schmidt which is why I use the dregs - what’s left at the bottom of the barrel. Slugs take enough of my garden wealth, I’m not letting them get the beer too!

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