The Root

One gardener’s quest to get to the bottom of it all.

Ideas for Ant, Slug & Snail Control May 10, 2008

The pea shoots in the ground at my plot are looking a little dog-eared; I’m pretty sure it’s slug damage. And now that I have a raised bed, I have a good way to test out copper slug tape. So I bought two rolls yesterday, at $8.50 a pop. (They are cleverly sold in 15-foot rolls, so that those following the Square Foot method to a tee with a 4’x4′ bed, like me, will have to buy two rolls.) It was easy to apply and it looks nice:

Sugar, I hope it works. The next time I see a slug, I’m going to subject it to a hands-on experiment, camera in hand. I have no idea what it does to them. Neville suggested that it might be like when you have metal fillings and you chew aluminum foil. (He said with a wry look, “Yeah, I have tried it. It just feels wrong.”) It’s rumored to be more effective than beer traps, because beer lures slugs to your plot, killing most, sure, but why attract any in the first place? Anyway, I’m glad for an alternative; At first, it was purely satisfying to catch the slimers, but it got old and disgusting very quickly.

Now, ants. Since supplementing my tomato plants with milk, something I did only once and will never do again indoors, I have noticed ants around the windowsill. A family friend of ours told us to set out a saucer of sugar mixed with borax. Ants are lured in by the sugar, eat the borax, as well, and that does some evil to them. My hunch is that borax is more like baking soda than bleach, on the scale of toxic stuff, so it probably kills the ants by expanding in their stomachs. Oy. I set out a mixture near the nexus of the ant highway and, again, have been trying to subject an ant to a direct test…but now that I have written what I think is the mechanism of its action, I don’t think I want to see a play-by-play.

That’s all I’ve got for insect control right now. Will report back if I see anything happen.

Live action update here.


15 Responses to “Ideas for Ant, Slug & Snail Control”

  1. Mrs Be Says:

    I will be watching this *very* closely. I nearly bought some of that copper tape today but was too tight!

    I desperately need something to stop the slugs getting not only our stuff up the allotment but all the school’s young, tender and tasty plants.

    Why don’t you set a beer trap and use that tape? Y’know, if they get through the first barrier the second will get them. I’m thinking of buying some sheets of sand paper and cutting discs round to put at the base of the plants. And crushed egg shells. And maybe brushing this garlic wash on them I saw on BBC Gardeners’ World….

  2. Kate Says:

    Love the sandpaper idea — and I bet the kids would get into that.

    I’m going to avoid beer traps this year if I can. I’m hanging my hopes on this copper — and hoping it’ll last for years and be worth the dollars — and might just try sandpaper, too.

    Another idea is to set a beer trap and ring it with a bunch of salt. Then you’d lure ’em in to their certain death. It would require some more maintenance, like resalting right after it rains, to get ’em while they’re bountiful, but ultimately very satisfying!

  3. Amy Says:

    Terro sells a great borax ant trap. Where did you get the copper strip? We have oodles of slugs – I found a baby one today, it was so darn cute I almost felt bad sending it flying over the fence – I’d love to try this out myself.

  4. Kate Says:

    No mercy! Love it.

    I got it at my local nursery. I think it’s doing the trick — nothing in the bed has been chewed on yet.

    Apparently, the deterrent is that copper shocks snails. Awesome.

    Since buying it, though, I have heard of a cheap alternative: getting scrap copper by the pound. And sticking strips in the ground a bit, so slugs are zapped below and above the dirt surface. More awesome.

  5. They say the slugs can’t stand coffee grounds either. I mix the grounds with broken egg shells and put that on top of the garden.

  6. jo b Says:

    having read about the ‘garlic wash’ I boiled up some garlic and followed instructions…after four hours I used a torch and went to see results…hmmm..there they were, munching again!
    I removed a big healthy looking snail..placed it in a 15″ diameter circle of salt…(just to make sure it didn’t escape my experiment) gave it a dose of the full strength garlic (2 full crushed heads boiled for 5 mins in 2pints water)..and I watched it stagger and sway..did’nt seem to keep its balance…it rolled over..and I thought it was dead. I left it there for 2 days…and hey ho! didn’t it come alive, I am not saying it was healthy, but it was alive.
    Various other plants given a very strong solution of garlic also had slugs and snails feasting on them as soon as night fell.
    So, I have tried everything except the ‘bran method’. If this does not work, I will be back to ‘salt and sure’. I have a slabbed patio garden..and don’t put salt on the little bit of earth that is there, or the pots or baskets. I am so dissapointed that the garlic does not work.

  7. jo b Says:

    Not to mention that the snails had crawled over the copper tape to get to the plants before I had to apply the garlic wash!!!
    The snails in Sussex are gymnastic, bungee jumping, acrobatic, flying trapeeze experts.!!

  8. Kate Says:

    Thanks for posting what has/hasn’t worked for you — very interesting info delivered right to my door and things I always have around, anyway (egg shells, coffee grounds, salt).

    I have never heard of the bran method…does it involve crushed breakfast food?!

    At the moment I’m battling a groundhog and some small, white worms or grubs I found inside my radishes…

  9. Kate Says:

    For the record, I don’t think trying to get scrap copper for free would work. I read that in a book published maybe 10-15 years ago, and these days, according to my father-in-law, scrap copper sells for multiple bucks/pound.

  10. […] repellent So there it was in the garden yesterday — a slug, but also a guinea pig for my copper tape repellent. I can’t say I was amazed with the results. Amazing would have been the slug curling up and […]

  11. […] is a fascinating page on this very subject of slug control, copper and garlic here Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)BBC: “Flood leaves 350,000 homes […]

  12. new4me Says:

    I’m fascinated by this saga, having the same problem myself. Your video of the slug is amazing! Have you heard of the copper impregnated matting which is useful for standing containers on? It’s another string to our bow, I guess. I’ve put some info and pictures here.
    This may be most useful for patio gardeners.
    I think we seem to need the “belts-and-braces” method: as many deterrants as we can!

  13. Andy Says:

    Living in the south of France, you’d expect us not to have as much of a slug snail problem as the french eat half of the enemy… but we do… We have planted Marigold (Tagetes) between the veg which tends to attract them more then the veg themselves… but they do get a bit costly to replace. My mother has told me to put ash down from a wood burning chimney… but in this new build home with such good insulation there is no chimney to burn wood.. .role on BBQ season. You can also put half scooped out orange skins down that attrack the slugs after their feast as a nice shelter from the sun.. of course they still need collecting and disposing of but at least they’re not there the next night too… Record night hunt is 73 snails.

  14. Ivona Says:

    sounds very nice way to stop slugs.

    I use coffee from my work, looks very nice, and smells very nice.
    I work in a busy coffee shop.

    This company shows you a youtube video of it working. Have a look very interesting,
    hope you like it

    Ivona Kazimerz

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