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Choosing the Best Slug & Snail Killer for You

A group on slugs feeding on leaves.

When slugs and snails invade your garden, prompt action can limit the slimy trails and tattered plants they leave behind. But insecticides used for common garden pests won't help. Snails and slugs are mollusks, more closely related to squids and clams than garden insects. Controlling these slippery invaders calls for “molluscicides" — pesticides designed especially for the task.

You can choose and use slug and snail control products confidently when you understand the forms of slug and snail controls, and the active ingredients in slug and snail products.

Forms of Slug and Snail Controls

While slug and snail controls come in several different forms, guidelines for their application are generally the same. These products should be used at the earliest hint of damage or to prevent damage where you've had problems before. Products are applied directly to the ground — not on plants themselves. Some are used in vegetables gardens and lawns, others on bare soil or mulch, so always read and follow product instructions closely.

Slug and snail controls come in these common forms:

Pellet baits: Scattered around plant bases and throughout areas you want to protect, pellet baits attract slugs and snails as they move to and from target plants during nightly feedings. Always scatter pellet baits well. Never leave pellets in piles, because piles can draw curious children and pets.

Simple-to-use Corry's Slug & Snail Killer ready-to-use pellets can be applied to lawns and around vegetables, fruits and flowers. It remains effective for up to two weeks, withstanding various weather conditions. Deadline Slug & Snail Slayer ready-to-use pellets treat areas of bare soil or mulch. Used as directed around listed vegetables and ornamentals, the long-lasting, all-weather formula withstands rain and sprinklers for up to three to four weeks of protection.

Effective controls keep slugs and snails away from garden produce.

Effective controls keep slugs and snails away from garden produce.

Liquid baits: Easy-to-use liquid bait products are applied in dots or thin lines around plants, between garden rows or around garden perimeters. Ready-to-use Deadline Force II Slug & Snail Killer liquid bait's spout simplifies squeezing out bait to treat existing slugs and snails and protect against new ones. Heavy rainfall and frequent watering increase slug and snail activity, and reapplications of liquid products may be needed. 

Physical barriers: Barrier products repel slugs and snails. Barriers made of copper are particularly effective. Copper reacts with the slug or snail's slimy mucus to deliver a sensation similar to a slight electric shock.1 Corry's Slug & Snail Copper Tape Barrier can be used along planter box edges, on raised beds, and on container rims to deter slugs and snails for several months.

Rain-resistant controls offer long-lasting protection against slugs and snails who may destroy crops.

Rain-resistant controls offer long-lasting protection against slugs and snails.

Active Ingredients in Slug and Snail Controls

Whatever product form you prefer, understanding its active ingredients is important to safe product use and success. Most effective slug and snail products contain one of the following active ingredients:

Metaldehyde: Metaldehyde-based products have been used to kill slugs and snails for more than 40 years. Typically fast-acting and highly effective, these products cause slugs and snails to lose moisture rapidly and die. Empty shells and foamy-looking dead and dying slugs and snails offer proof of success.

Metaldehyde products should only be used in areas that can be kept clear of children and pets from application time until the product can no longer be seen. The active ingredient can be harmful to children and fatal if ingested by dogs and cats. So, also always be sure to store these products out of reach of children and pets.

Deadline Slug & Snail Slayer ready-to-use pellets and Deadline Force II Slug & Snail Killer ready-to-use liquid bait, both with the active ingredient metaldehyde, are highly effective in luring existing slugs and snails away from plants for a final meal. Applied to bare soil around garden perimeters and label-listed ornamentals and edibles, these products also help prevent new invasions.

Controls should be applied as soon as possible to limit snail and slug damage

Controls should be applied as soon as possible to limit snail and slug damage.

Sodium ferric EDTA: The newest generation of slug and snail controls rely on the active ingredient sodium ferric EDTA. These iron-related products allow people and pets to enter treated areas immediately after use, and they work rapidly to end plant damage. When slugs and snails eat even a small amount, they immediately stop feeding. Then they seek out secluded spots and die — out of sight — within three to six days. Corry's Slug & Snail Killer ready-to-use pellets with sodium ferric EDTA can be used around all types of plants from vegetables and fruits to lawn grasses.

Iron phosphate: Slug and snail products with the active ingredient iron phosphate have been available since the early 2000s.2 These controls work in a way similar to sodium ferric EDTA products. Snails and slugs eat the bait, immediately stop feeding, and then retreat to their hiding places. Plant damage ends right away, but slugs and snails may take several days to die. Iron phosphate-based Corry's Slug & Snail Easy Kill Gel can be used around vegetable, nut, fruit, herb and ornamental plants, and in areas frequented by children and animals.

By choosing snail and slug products to suit your family and garden, you can prevent the extensive damage caused by slugs and snails. Banish slugs and snails with highly effective products from the Corry's and Deadline brands, and rest easy. Corry's has been protecting plants for more than 70 years.

Always read product labels thoroughly and follow instructions carefully.

Corry's with design and Deadline are registered trademarks of Matson, LLC.


1. Flint, M.L. and Wilen, C.A., “Snails and Slugs," University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, November 2009.

2. Wilen, C.A., “New Snail and Slug Active Ingredient Available," University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, May 2014.