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.
Choosing the best slug and snail control products for your garden starts with understanding forms of slug and snail controls.
FORMS OF SLUG AND SNAIL CONTROLS
While slug and snail controls come in several different forms, guidelines for application are generally the same. These products should be used at the earliest hint of slug and snail damage or to prevent damage where you've had problems before.
Slug and snail products are applied directly to the ground — not on plants themselves. Some are used in vegetable gardens and lawns, but others are limited to bare soil or mulch, so always read and follow product instructions closely. Slug and snail controls come in these common forms:
Physical barriers: Barrier products work by coming between slugs and snails and their target plants. Gardeners use many kinds of barriers, including homemade plastic rings cut from water bottles. Other examples include copper tape or mesh barriers that deliver an unpleasant sensation that may send these pests on their way.1
But with all physical barriers, success depends on the pest's willingness to change course. While barriers may deter some slugs and snails, nothing prevents the pests from coming back for more.
Pellet baits: Pellet baits can offer many advantages over other forms of slug and snail controls. Scattered around plant bases and through garden areas, pellet baits attract slugs and snails as they move to and from target plants during nightly feedings.
Simple-to-use Corry's Slug & Snail Killer ready-to-use pellets can be applied to lawns and around flowers, fruits and vegetables. These pellets remain effective for up to two weeks, withstanding rain and water sprinklers that often wash liquid products away. And unlike physical barriers, these pellets stop feeding damage immediately and kill slugs and snails instead of rerouting them.
With Corry's Slug & Snail Killer ready-to-use pellets, people and pets can reenter treated areas right away. But always scatter pellet baits well according to the application rates on the back of the product; never leave pellets in piles. They can attract curious children and animals, along with slugs and snails.
Rain-resistant controls offer long-lasting protection against slugs and snails.
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS IN SLUG AND SNAIL CONTROLS
Whatever slug and snail product you choose, understanding its active ingredients is important to safe product use and success. Slug and snail products have undergone many changes through the years in terms of safety, effectiveness and ease of use. Most slug and snail products on the market contain one of the following active ingredients:
Metaldehyde: Metaldehyde-based products have been used to kill slugs and snails for more than 40 years. 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.
However, metaldehyde products should only be used where you can keep treated areas clear of children and pets from application until the product can no longer be seen — which can be weeks. Even small amounts of metaldehyde can be harmful to children and fatal if ingested by dogs and cats. So, always store these products out of reach of children and pets.
Deadline Slug & Snail Slayer ready-to-use pellets, with the active ingredient metaldehyde, are highly effective in attracting and killing slugs and snails when these restrictions can be met. Apply only to bare soil around garden perimeters and label-listed ornamentals and edibles. Follow label instructions carefully, including guidelines on reentry times.
Controls should be applied as soon as possible to limit snail and slug damage.
Iron phosphate: Slug and snail products with the active ingredient iron phosphate became available in the early 2000s.2 But these controls were soon eclipsed by a similar, faster-acting alternative called sodium ferric EDTA. With iron phosphate, 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.
Sodium ferric EDTA: The newest generation of slug and snail controls rely on the active ingredient sodium ferric EDTA, the key ingredient in Corry's Slug & Snail Killer ready-to-use pellets. These iron-related products allow people and pets to enter treated areas right away. They attract slugs and snails and once the product is consumed, they stop feeding on plants immediately.
When slugs and snails eat even a small amount of sodium ferric EDTA, 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 can be used around all types of plants from lawn grasses to fruits and vegetables — right up to harvest day.
By choosing snail and slug products to suit your family and garden, you can prevent extensive damage caused by slugs and snails. With Corry's, you can banish slugs and snails with highly effective products and rest easy. Corry's has been protecting plants for more than 70 years.
Always read product labels thoroughly and follow instructions carefully.
1. Flint, M.L. and Wilen, C.A., "Snails and Slugs," University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, March 2018.
2. Wilen, C.A., "New Snail and Slug Active Ingredient Available," University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, May 2014.