Slugs in the house can drive you absolutely crazy. Their trails usually appear overnight across floors, cabinets and carpets – even up the walls. And just ask a child who has stepped on one oozing its way across the kitchen floor – that slime sticks like glue! But you can stop them. Follow the steps below to get rid of every slug in your house.
An older home can be especially attractive to slugs and snails – there are plenty of cracks and crevices and underneath it’s dark, cool and often moist.
From our friend Collin: “We live in an old farmhouse in the heart of a rainy, wet valley. It’s beautiful and green but there are slugs everywhere. We’ve learned to deal with them outside but when they started to appear in the kitchen we (meaning my wife) had a problem.”
Kim (a city girl who used to live on the 37th floor in downtown Chicago): “These enormous slugs would show up, usually in the morning, or we would see their slimy trails around the cat food dish – it was disgusting! I would die if someone else saw them! But then Collin followed their trails and sealed every hole. It only took a couple of hours but we haven’t seen a slug inside for months – it’s brilliant!”
Why are they attracted?
Slugs have a good sense of smell and are often attracted to pet food, kitchens or pantries. Just try leaving the dog’s food on an outdoor porch on a rainy spring night – if slugs are in the neighborhood they’ll come running! (So to speak)
How do they get in?
Having no bones, or even the hard shell of an insect, means that slugs can squeeze through amazingly tiny cracks. They can also climb a vertical surface and even travel upside-down. Common entry points include the spaces under doors, holes drilled in the floor for water or gas pipes, joints along walls, cut-outs for furnace and dryer ducts and holes for electrical wiring.
How to stop every slimy, slithering slug and keep them OUT
- Use a torch/flashlight in a darkened room to spot the dried trails from last nights’ invasion then follow them back to any entry points.
- Check for joints, holes and gaps along walls, around doors, pipes, vents and under cabinets.
- Seal gaps using expanding foam for larger gaps or silicone sealant for smaller cracks.
- Pellets in a dish under the fridge won’t increase the number of slugs coming in – there are already enough delicious smells in your house for any slug to investigate.
- Arm yourself with the supplies below and go forth to conquer the slimy menace!
For larger gaps we highly recommend polyurethane foam in a can. This material expands as it cures and fills up every void with a durable, pest-proof, waterproof barrier. Also seals out the winter wind, noise and pesky rodents. Pay particular attention around any pipes or ducting, joints and spaces around doors or the edges of baseboard trim.
Wear gloves and old clothes when using foam because it will stick to absolutely everything including your hands, hair, clothes, children and passing motorists. But seriously, there is absolutely no better, easier way to fill large gaps than with expanding foam. Put down newspapers or plastic sheeting and carry a rag to catch any foam oozing out of the nozzle. Hardened foam will block the nozzle so it’s best to use up the can while it’s fresh.
After the foam hardens you can easily trim off any excess with a serrated knife or hack saw blade. In a visible location it can then be plastered over or painted. A flexible nozzle is supplied with the can.
We really wish we could recommend this product but our experience and tests have shown that copper tape is just not as effective as we would like. Copper tape seems like an ideal solution – it lasts a long time and studies show that in some situations it works. But in real life it just doesn’t work very well – most of the time slugs and snails will slide right across without much hesitation. Check out these videos at one of our favorite garden sites. There are thousands of websites that will try and sell you this product but it just doesn’t work well enough for us to recommend it.
For smaller gaps (anything smaller than a pencil), silicone sealant works better than foam. Just squeeze a bit in any suspicious holes and fill up any spaces between floor and wall, around door trim, baseboards or the joints between timbers. Sealant in a squeeze tube is much easier to use in tight spaces than a large cartridge and gun.
Pellets applied where slugs are likely to hide is the very best way to control slugs and snails. The new generation of slug baits is effective, tasty to slugs and best of all not toxic to children, pets and wildlife. Baits developed in the last few years are based on iron phosphate, a compound not really toxic to anything except slugs and snails. Once they eat this bait slugs will stop feeding and then crawl away to die a few days later.
Old-style baits contain metaldehyde, a chemical toxic to dogs, cats, wildlife and people. Dogs will seek out bait pellets even if scattered across the garden. Some metaldehyde baits are coated with ‘animal repellent’ – this is an improvement but we have all seen the things a dog will eat – to us it’s just not worth the risk. Please buy baits formulated only with iron phosphate and labeled “pet and wildlife safe”. The dogs, cats, hedgehogs, snakes, birds, toads and children will thank you!
Of course a substantial gap under any exterior door means that slugs can waltz right in looking for a tasty meal. This seal may look a little odd but it does the job and it’s easy to install – just slide it under the door. It’s not recommended over carpet but a few strips of duct tape on the bottom will help it to slide smoothly. Cuts down on draughts/drafts and noise too! Easily cut to size, the inner and outer sections can even be trimmed to different lengths.
Eliminate those hiding spots!
Control the slugs outside and not as many will come inside. Try our 6 step plan to get rid of slugs around your house and garden.
Diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of a single-celled algae called the diatom. Millions of these tiny fossils are collected over time and form deposits similar to limestone. This material can be sprinkled directly on slugs or used as a barrier. If you live in a dry environment diatomaceous earth is a very effective slug and insect killer. However, diatomaceous earth is not effective once it gets wet so most people will have better luck using one of the methods above.
Ducks are fabulous slug eaters and will seek out these tasty morsels all around your garden. They will also happily eat your lettuce seedlings so keep them fenced out until plants are larger. Plus, is there anything cuter than baby ducks? OK, maybe kittens…
Salt will definitely kill slugs and a band of salt across a doorway will keep them out but we don’t recommend this method. Salt will also kill nearby plants and constantly stepping over a line of salt just doesn’t seem practical. In addition, salt poured on a slug will create an orange slimy mess and it just seems cruel.
Gardening in the Pacific Northwest?
Nothing says cool, damp and sluggy like the Pacific Northwest. This area is famous for its native resident, and mascot of the University of California at Santa Cruz, the Pacific Banana Slug. This lowly, (wink wink) but beloved gastropod, is the second largest terrestrial slug in the world, sometimes growing to nearly 10″ (25 cm) long.
Ranging from nearly black (like that week old banana you forgot in the fruit bowl) through bright yellow to nearly white depending on moisture, light exposure and diet. many are a dull yellow with blackish spots.
In their rainforest home Banana slugs perform the valuable function of consuming leaves, animal waste, and dead plant material. Excreting a rich nitrogen fertilizer slugs contribute to the nutrient cycle of the forest. Slugs themselves are sometimes eaten by raccoons, snakes waterfowl and salamanders.
Banana slugs are not usually a problem in the garden, preferring the forest floor instead. Of course, there are many species of slugs who would love nothing better than to mow down your recently planted seedlings. If you garden in the Pacific Northwest we can highly recommend our friends at My Northwest Garden – they are good people dedicated to helping you grow a fabulous garden. Tell them we said “Hi”.
Thanks for Helping!
If you buy something by clicking on one of our links we get a few pennies from Amazon to put into more research on slugs and snails. It doesn’t change the price for you at all but helps us a bit. Fortunately, slugs aren’t picky so we don’t need that expensive ‘Royal Complete Duck & Rabbit Senior Slug Mix’
Thanks again, we really appreciate the support!
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