Part of my garden in unused Scottish farm land with a high slug
population. I've read that slugs don't like copper too much and I have
plenty old copper cable lying around that I'd like to re-use. Has anyone
had any success with this?
Copper has an "unstable" electron configuration which allows the easy flow
of electrons within the metal. Supposedly wet, slimey creatures can feel
this and dislike it. I imagine the best repellant would be the copper
insulated from the ground, as in sitting on top of a plastic strip or other
insulator. One major problem with this setup is the instability of exposed
copper. It readily oxidizes and combines with airborne contaminants to form
a non-conducting coating. Coating the copper with something to prevent this
chemical tarnishing would negate the repelling ability as much as the
tarnish. So unless you would like to get out there and sand down or
chemically clean your copper every month or so (depending on your air
quality) to expose a nice shiney surface, I'd suggest an alternate method.
Fence in the area and buy some guinea hens, chikens, ducks or geese and turn
those slugs into eggs and poultry.
I think that the notion that electricity has something to do with slugs and
copper is unnecessarily far-fetched. All metals have "unstable electron
configurations" but most do not bother slugs. More pertinently, copper is a
poison to which slugs and snails are exquisitely sensitive. I expect that a
slug in contact with copper senses big chemical trouble and tries to get
The cheapest and easiest way to kill slugs is beer. Here's what you do:
get a plastic container that's 2 or 3 inches deep. Pour an inch or two
of beer into the container. Finally, bury the container so that the top
is at ground level. Slugs are extremely attracted to beer and will
drown themselves in the pool of beer. You'll get results as soon as
If the slugs are really big, you'll need to adjust the amount of beer.
If you're having problems with rain water, take a two liter soda bottle
and cut the top off; reattach it so that it's inverted, allowing the
slugs to crawl into the bottle when it's on its side; fill with beer;
place on its side. If this sounds too complicated, try erecting some
kind of umbrella over the containers.
Good luck (but you won't need it).
"Beer traps do attract slugs but don't reliably kill them unless the trap
is deep enough slugs can't reach over the top to get out (so saucers don't
work, slugs climb right off the saucers, but Yoplay yogurt plastic cups
are just barely too deep for a slug to climb out of, so it drowns in the
beer). Such a trap would also endanger frogs & small lizards & beneficial
insects that per chance fell in, without really resulting in a dramatic
lessening of the slug population."
Not just any ol' beer will attracts 'em either:
"[Some] findings from the Colorado study: slugs don't like Rainier Beer,
Strohs, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Coors, or Millers. Anyone who likes these beers
lacks even the good sense of a slug. Anheiser-Busch beers were across the
board better liked, inducing one soul to suggest a new brand, Slugweiser;
but nothing equalled non-alcoholic Kingsbury Malt in slug appeal. Slugs
don't like flat beer at all, they want it fresh. Slugs don't like wine.
Gallo Wine was slightly more appealing than plain water, but not by much."
"For cold-frames or raised beds, it is possible to attach copper flashing
to the frames. Slugs do not like to cross copper because it causes them to
experience a minute electrical discharge (or such is the prevailing
theory). It works only if the copper strip is wide enough they can't raise
their bodies over it. The majority of copper stripping sold in garden
shops for this purpose is not wide enough to create an effective barrier,
which would need to be six inches wide, or the largest most destructive
slugs will hump right over it without touching the copper.
"Copper-barriering an entire garden is not going to be practical, but it
is an excellent method for protecting very sensitive seedling beds or
small containers. Copper screen or copper flashing can surround a raised
bed, or for small planters, copper foil (such as Snail-Barr) can be used
to wrap the entire container. Shrubs can have a band of copper around the
"Copper needs to be cleaned periodically with vinegar or will tarnish & no
longer have the desired effect. Personally I cannot imagine going about
making rings of copper for all the shrubs or encircling gardens with
copper mesh, risking my hands or the feet of animals that can be cut on
the edges of copper, then remembering to periodically polish the copper
scattered about the garden. But at least this is a system that can work,
unlike so many folklorish methods & worthless toxins that desparate
-paghat the ratgirl
Get your Paghat the Ratgirl T-Shirt here:
Six inch copper? Good Lord, what kind of slugs are we having here? Something
big enough to "hump" over that is big enough to eat! Maybe a night watchman
with a shotgun is required. (is there a hunting season?)
Old Chief Lynn
My parents have some species of slug in their area that is larger than your
thumb! The slugs I have are so tiny that you can hardly find them which
makes them really hard to eliminate by picking them off by hand.
in oregon (at least the willamette valley part) there IS a hunting season on
"banana slugs" so called cuz they're about the length of a banana and
they're yellow. in the early mornings, the "snot" trails are so numerous
and shiny, you can see them BEFORE the sun even rises!!!
i'm not sure who wrote it (or why) but in warshington state, especially in
the tourist shops, there's a cookbook having many recipes using banana slug
as the "meat of choice."
ahhh, what is a slug but escargot without a home on its back??
With Malus toward none, and Cherry-Trees toward all.
Ok, here's a solution that fixes both the depth and reptile problems.
Put a lid on the container and punch holes in it, large enough for
slugs to get through, but small enough so your wild reptiles won't
accidentally fall in. The bottle on its side also accomplishes the same
thing. And in my experience, the beer doesn't have to be too deep to
drown the slugs.
I have used copper pennies in rings around hostas. This works while the
plants are young. When the leaves grow and expand beyond the circle they are
no longer effective. I have had the most sucess with beer. Small round
ziplock containers buried to ground level filled 3/4 full will protect 2 - 3
plants. Empty and refill every week or two regardless of rainfall.....I have
them in an irrigated area and the traps remain effective fo this long. I use
Molson Canadian for my bait. Not for human consumption......
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