Shocking News For Slugs


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OK, that’s it. I’ve had it with you now. It’s time to get serious.


The story so far –


Grit, berberis prunings, rough sided pots: all tried to no avail.

Nematodes: In this damp and shady environment, ineffective even at double strength. Expensive and can be messy to apply.

Wool pellets: the molluscs didn’t even stop to blink.

Coffee grounds: a good short term solution but in the end the slugs overcame them too, despite repeated applications.

Copper rings: work well for rigid plants, such as irises, where no leaves droop over the ring and on to the ground. Floppy leaves provide a bridge and you can bet your bottom dollar the slimy ones will have been waiting patiently in the wings for just that very moment.

Slug pellets: the only product that has worked consistently so far but you know how I feel about using those. There are so many creatures roaming through the valley, including the hedgehogs we’ve now found courtesy of duck cam, and plenty of birds feeding off the ground.

Of course I can and do pick off the slugs where I see them and chuck them over the edge of the hill. Five points for every plop straight in the river. But time is short and the area to cover too large for a meaningful impact this way.


So. What’s next. A pseudo scientific trial, that’s what.

Three experiments spread across the freshly cultivated space on the slope.


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1. Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’ and sharp sand


Yes, the Rudbeckia should be in full bloom by now, shining stars of the late summer garden with their beautiful russet tones. And why are they not? You had better ask Mr Slug who munched their top growth right down to the pot over the three nights I’d left them out in the open to harden off. After a period of intensive care back in the greenhouse the growth has returned. Two of them even have flower buds. Boy, do I hope that sand is sharp.




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2. Liatris spicata and home made beer traps


Yes, I know the plants have been nibbled already. Hopefully not terminally so. And it was before the experiment began.


Me: “Have we got any beer?”

Him: “What for?” (Always a question to answer a question).

Me: “Slug Traps.”

Him: “Oh no you won’t, not with my decent beer you won’t….”


With an unplanned trip to the supermarket in prospect the darker recesses of the booze cupboard saw light for the first time in years and an ‘old’ bottle emerged, deemed suitable for use. So there you go boys, Ruddles County best. Enjoy.




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3. Echinacea pallida and Shocka Mat


And finally, a high tech solution. Shocka mat arrives on a roll, a bit like weed control fabric. It has copper impregnated into the top surface and allegedly gives the slugs a shock when they cross it, in much the same way as the copper rings. But given that it can be applied in a wider circle around each plant any problems with droop should, theoretically, be a thing of the past. Phew.

It’s fiddly. Perhaps I should have put the fabric down first and then cut holes through it but of course I had to do it the hard way and cut the holes in EXACTLY the right place to fit over plants already placed in the ground. Doh.

There’s one thing still perplexes me. I’ve checked three times to make sure it’s the right way up. Yes, the fabric should be dark side uppermost. So why oh why does the manufacturer have to print big white letters right across the top?


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It’s like a bloomin’ message to aircraft.




There we have it. We shall wait and see.

What do you reckon, will any of them work?


2017-10-24T19:32:43+00:00September 4th, 2015|Tags: |


  1. Maria September 4, 2015 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    I hate them with vengeance …copper rings works well for me and the tape, if I have a larger plant I get the copper tape , get plastic cheap edging that you put around between lawns and flower beds usually fro pound shops. Put the edging as fair away from the play as I need , and make a large square or circle , a bit of a fiddle but put the tape half way up the edging all the way around, the shape , slightly over lapping and can leave it for several years, so not cheap to start with but it has worked for me , looks fine as the plant grows as I try to buy green edging and as we have Dextie I could never use pellets and hate them anyway. hope it makes sense??? Maria xx

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      It does make sense and it should work well as long as there are no slugs inside the circle when you start. One managed to breach my sand barrier last night, they must put up with a lot of discomfort to get at a tasty meal.

  2. Maria September 4, 2015 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Sorry re above spelling, gremlins on the computer all day or was it me!!!

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      No worries!

  3. annincumbria September 4, 2015 at 5:57 pm - Reply

    The beer traps work for me Jessica, do you have a pub nearby who would keep there dregs for you

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      It worked a treat last night! Ruddles is quite dark so it’s difficult to see but there must be at least three in the bottle and no further damage to plants. No pubs near unfortunately. But if this carries on it will be worth the cheap beer purchases to save expensive plants. I’m just going to need a lot of traps..

  4. Joanne September 4, 2015 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    How interesting, see I’m lucky having a small plot but I am thinking of nematodes applied three times next year. I shall certainly be looking for feedback on your Shoka mat & sincerely hope you get no rogue aircraft landing!! xx

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 9:11 pm - Reply

      Shocka mat is working well so far. In fact I noticed today that the echinacea seedlings are sending up new shoots. But I’ve been given hope before only to have it dashed, so we’ll wait a bit longer and see. The recommendation is to reapply the nematodes every six weeks. For me the protection lasted much less than that, if indeed it worked at all. And I was using it in raised beds, so a fairly isolated area.

  5. Caro September 4, 2015 at 6:28 pm - Reply

    I had success with wool pellets last year but they don’t seem to be working this year – particularly with the snails who are busy dining on my beans at night. I found one 6ft off the ground yesterday. Will be v interested in the outcome of your trials as a recently planted agapanthus has been severely nibbled. I’m almost cross enough to start spreading pellets.

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 9:15 pm - Reply

      Don’t get that cross! So far the Shocka mat and beer traps are in the lead. The Shocka mat, although expensive, would be the best choice for me if it continues to work because it needs no maintenance. Although last night something, possibly a deer, walked that way and removed half of it. I managed to retrieve all the pieces and put it back, so we’ll see if it happens again.

  6. Amy at love made my home September 4, 2015 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    I reckon they will go for the beer every time, trouble is Mike might get a bit fed up with them scoffing his precious supplies! I like your trap though, very ingenious and easy to pick up and dispose of once it is full of little bodies! Good luck!!! xx

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      The idea for the trap wasn’t mine, it came from annincumbria is response to my last slug post. If it continues to work I will give her full credit in the next follow up post! It seems to be doing the job so far. Apart from the cheap beer it won’t cost me much because we throw away so many of those water bottles. It will be good to think that they are having a second use.

  7. thegardeningshoe September 4, 2015 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    My money’s on the beer traps – they work for the slugs here. I have a large number of traps for a slug pub crawl. Good luck!

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      It certainly seems to work. The nasty bit will be the emptying I think. Put off till tomorrow!

  8. Backlane Notebook September 4, 2015 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Good riddance.

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 9:40 pm - Reply


  9. lynngill September 4, 2015 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    I have a slug problem – in my kitchen……as soon as night falls they come out from behind the washing machine – last night I threw 7 out of the window.
    When I get really cross they go into the recycling bin.

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      Eeek! That is too much. Sounds like there is a gap around the waste pipe. The recycling bin is far too kind.

  10. Jacqueline September 4, 2015 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    We have a north facing garden FULL of hostas and, because it is wet and moist, we have zillions of frogs and they really seem to keep the slugs at bay. We also have much wildlife so, I think that they get eaten. At this time of year, there are some holes in the hosta leaves but I can live with that !!
    You can do no more than you’re doing Jessica and I’m sure that at least one of your slug traps will work. Keep us posted. XXXX

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 9:55 pm - Reply

      I think our frogs must be vegetarians.. 😉

  11. CJ September 4, 2015 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Slugs and snails in abundance here. I’ve given up controlling them, and I just hope that some things survive. CJ xx

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      Everything disappears. It is costing me a fortune. Shocka mat and the like might save me a few shillings in wasted plants. Otherwise I will give up too.

  12. mattb325 September 4, 2015 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    Wow. That is some serious anti snail and slug gadgetry! I’m sorry to hear the coffee grounds didn’t work.
    For my seedlings I often try planting them out in mid-late winter (when there is no slug activity) but enclose the seedlings in those clear strawberry punnets you get from the supermarket to keep them warm until spring. It works well; by the time the punnets come off (which is probably late March in your neck of the woods) there has usually been sufficient growth to withstand munching.
    I hope these new methods prove useful during the autumn buffet season!

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      I will try that this year Matt. Theoretically it is milder in the south west, but it’s been down to -10C in recent years.

  13. bittster September 5, 2015 at 1:32 am - Reply

    Ugh, the idea of slugs makes me grateful for our very dry weather.
    I hope the slug mat works, but if it does will you be completing the landing strip for larger planes? I don’t know how it looks from a distance, but up close it’s slightly distracting 🙂

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      It looks awful. I am banking on the fact that it will work, the plants will grow and cover the damn stuff up. Otherwise the whole exercise will be consigned to the bin alongside all previous misadventure.

  14. Virginia September 5, 2015 at 1:53 am - Reply

    Jacqueline suggested frogs … what about a couple of ponds … after all, Mike has time on his hands doesn’t he! He could be the creator – to add to his many other skills!

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 10:16 pm - Reply

      I am hesitant to mention it to him… mainly on account of the fact that he has spent all summer filling one in! It was a stupid place for a pond. Under trees and on another part of the slope. Leaked like a sieve. But we’ve been garden visiting today (next post) and they had a pond. With ducks and geese. The yearning is back..

  15. Beth @ PlantPostings September 5, 2015 at 2:48 am - Reply

    Wow, you are prepared! The beer traps work for me. I have a stash of cheap brew that I use just for slug traps and for boiling bratwurst. Also, lava rocks and diatomaceous soil (probably like your sharp sand) can work — but then they also harm beneficial caterpillars. Such challenges! Good luck!

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      Yep. I need to find a source of cheap brew and we will be away. The slugs really do seem to love it. I caught three last night and there were slug trails everywhere, all leading to the trap 🙂

  16. Kris P September 5, 2015 at 4:43 am - Reply

    Shock mats! That’s new to me. I wish I could send you a raccoon (or maybe 2 or 3) – the one thing they’re good for is dispatching slugs and snails. they’re dainty eaters, even leaving many an empty snail shell behind. Only their appetite for grubs and the digging that accompanies it presents a problem…

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      It’s a shame there are no shock mats for raccoons, at least I assume there are not. Mike once threatened to wire the bird table to the national grid so that when a squirrel climbed up the pole…

  17. Amy September 5, 2015 at 7:23 am - Reply

    Sand works great… if you get it hot enough…!

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 10:23 pm - Reply


  18. Island Threads September 5, 2015 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Jessica I hope you find success, I have never heard of the shocka mat and agree with about the lettering, they never miss a chance to advertise, my Dad used to use beer traps, living with a chalk and clay garden he had loads of problems with snails, for me as I have said before sand has worked best, good luck, Frances

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 10:28 pm - Reply

      It’s not looking good Frances. The only plant nibbled last night was one in the middle of the sand. However, I’m not convinced it’s slugs. There were footprints. So tonight we’ve set up duck cam, angled down over the rudbeckia buried in the sand. I doubt it’s sensitive enough to pick up slugs, but if it’s anything else we will know.

  19. bumbleandme September 5, 2015 at 9:00 am - Reply

    You need ducks Jessica, that’ll sort the slug issue. Ours adore slugs and snails.

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 10:30 pm - Reply

      I do need ducks. If only I could keep them safe from the foxes, which prowl even in broad daylight, I would get some tomorrow.

  20. Anna September 5, 2015 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Will be interested in the results Jessica. I’ve used beer traps in the past using the dregs of himself’s home brew and have had some success. Regular emptying and topping up is advisable otherwise contents develop a most unpleasant pong.

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      The emptying is not a job I’m looking forward to at all. I’ve put if off till tomorrow, not least because I’ve no more beer until the next grocery shop. Thankfully weather conditions are quite cool.

  21. homeslip September 5, 2015 at 9:48 am - Reply

    The results will be interesting. I took my eye off a fine hosta in a pot for a week or two and when we returned from holiday it had been munched to shreds and there were about 10 large snails hiding in the pot and thus out of sight of my thrushes, frogs, toads and hedgehog. I think the answer is to plant stuff that slugs and snails definitely won’t eat – I’ve seen agaves looking good on slopes recently.

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      They are evil those molluscs. They wait for the moment your back is turned. I’d love to try agaves, but not sure they would like all our rain.

  22. Cumbrian September 5, 2015 at 10:35 am - Reply

    I’ve had most success with the beer traps, usually remnants of home-brew, they really dpo seem to work.
    But we’ll never win, they always come back.
    Like the idea of ducks, but will they not do too much damage to plants?

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      I’d worry about the damage to plants too, they do like to peck. And have big feet. I think they also need a fair amount of grass to graze on and there isn’t much of that here.

  23. Em September 5, 2015 at 10:56 am - Reply


    Sorry – still very grumpy regarding the fact that absolutely nothing in our veg patch has survived them. I can’t manage without my yearly dose of runner beans and am having to spend a fortune on roadside fare grown by a local ten year old. Grrrrr!

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 10:52 pm - Reply

      Our runner beans have been absolute rubbish this year. They never really got going in Spring so I’m not really surprised.

  24. Linda aka Crafty Gardener September 5, 2015 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    Let’s hope it works. I’ve tried all sorts, some work in spme places, some work in other places. I think there is a higher breed of slugs who are immune to everything!

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 10:54 pm - Reply

      A superslug breed does not bear thinking about!

  25. Joe September 5, 2015 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    They leave the plants alone around here, but we can’t keep them out of the cat’s food. They’re crazy about it.

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      Hi Joe and welcome.
      That doesn’t sound very nice, especially for your poor cat. I wonder what is in the food that attracts them.

  26. Suzanne September 5, 2015 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica,
    Aren’t the slugs the worst! I have tow gardens I tend that have snail problems. While I have tried a few of the common cures without success, I did however use diatomaceous earth with some luck. Until it rains anyway. I think I may have suggested this to you earlier in the year. Was it for ants perhaps? Anyway, I did some research and found this.
    Check number 5. I don’t think the rusty ones will do however.

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 11:10 pm - Reply

      You’re right, rain will be our downfall. Vampiric slugs? Good grief, does it get any worse?? 😉
      Yes, I’d love ducks. But the article also reminded me about garlic, which I haven’t tried yet. Next set of trials for our slimy friends. Thanks for the research Suzanne, it really summed up the options well.

  27. J-P Stacey (@jpstacey) September 5, 2015 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Good luck! Interesting to see the Shocka mats in the lead. A ring of copper coins did nothing for my dahlias last year.

    I’m sure Beechgrove Garden did a trial in the past year of various methods but I’m darned if I can find it on Google. One thing I do remember from some programme or other is that, if you’re worried about the toxicity of pellets (which is understandable), they work just as well if you use them sparingly (like one per square metre) and put them where you think the slugs tend to come from, rather than around the plants you’re protecting. Hoping to try it myself once we move and I can get down to working on a new garden!

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 11:38 pm - Reply

      My problem is that the pellets disappear almost as soon as I put them out. If it’s slugs eating them then fair enough, but it’s the possibility of ‘friendly’ wildlife that worries me. One per metre sounds very thin indeed! Although it would save a fortune if it worked, given the price of the pellets. Good luck with your move.

  28. annamadeit September 5, 2015 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    I think I would consider getting ducks, as someone up-thread suggested. My brother and his wife have ducks, and they keep their gardens free of those awful murder slugs that have invaded Sweden. I don’t think anything else helped… Good luck with your trapping attempts…

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 11:42 pm - Reply

      Having lived with ducks in the past it’s very tempting. They are such characters too, great fun to have around.

  29. CherryPie September 5, 2015 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    I will be interested to hear about the results of your experiments!

    • Jessica September 5, 2015 at 11:44 pm - Reply

      I hope one of them works. But I’m not done yet. Two more things up my sleeve to try.. three, counting the ducks 🙂

  30. Chloris September 6, 2015 at 8:25 am - Reply

    The lengths you have to go to in your war against slugs. I hope shocking them will work. My big problem is snails, rather than slugs. Especially in the greenhouse. They eat all my seedlings. I find coffee grounds do work for snails, but you do have to keep applying it and you need to drink a lot of coffee. Beer traps seem to work for slugs, but my snails seem to be teetotal. Good luck!

    • Jessica September 7, 2015 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      I emptied half a dozen fat slugs out of the trap yesterday. Not a particularly pleasant task but as far as I can tell they missed the plants entirely. Yes, snails here too. But they are easier to lob and they travel much farther 🙂

  31. Spade & Dagger September 6, 2015 at 10:27 am - Reply

    Home brew is the answer for a cheap, voluminous supply of slug trap beer. Wilkinsons stores on the ‘High Street’ (or others online) have cans of home brew mix to which you just add water and yeast (included with the can) and brew in a large lidded container, then it is decanted into an air-tight sealed barrel or container for keeping. Unless you want to drink the brew, you wouldn’t have to go to a lot of fuss on technique as the slugs are not fussy on the quality.

    • Jessica September 7, 2015 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      Hi, welcome and many thanks for the tip!
      How long does it take to brew up? I’m wondering if it’s best to leave it a while so I have a good supply ready come Spring.

      • Spade & Dagger September 8, 2015 at 8:25 am - Reply

        Takes about a week to brew. Cans generally come as kits to make 20 or 40 pints & it’s easier to buy one that has the sugar already included in the can. Stored in a strong air-tight vessel the decanted brew will last weeks in a cool place & once opened will gradually begin to deteriorate although the slugs don’t care a bit even when it would be totally undrinkable to a human. Good luck if you decide to have a go.

        • Jessica September 8, 2015 at 7:56 pm - Reply

          That’s useful information, thank you!

  32. Rosie September 6, 2015 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    Well I hope they all work for you, the Shocka mat is new to me but I have heard of people getting good results from the beer or lager trap:)

    • Jessica September 7, 2015 at 2:50 pm - Reply

      The Shocka mat is looking the best bet so far.. there are even new leaves emerging on the Echinacea seedlings. For me that’s a first!! The beer traps work well too but need maintenance and on the slope that’s not so good. Plus emptying them is not the nicest of jobs.

  33. Mise September 6, 2015 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    Oh, the best of luck, dear Jessica! I eagerly await your onslaught on midges.

    • Jessica September 7, 2015 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      Aaah now, that one is easy. There’s a machine you can get. Like a big vacuum cleaner. Lady MacDonald of Skye has one..

  34. Jo September 7, 2015 at 11:54 am - Reply

    It’s just adding insult to injury if it doesn’t work providing refreshment to go with their meal. I know people go slug hunting, chopping them in half when they come across them, but I’m too squeamish to do that.

    • Jessica September 7, 2015 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      Me too Jo. I’m not sure how much pause they get to enjoy their refreshment. But there must be worse ways to go..

  35. Sue Garrett September 7, 2015 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    I hate to say it but we used Shocka Mat on the base of our cold frame and found slugs crawling across it on perturbed

    • Jessica September 7, 2015 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      Noooooo!! I did find a slug trail this evening I must confess..

  36. Peter/Outlaw September 7, 2015 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    I hope they all work! A nice solution of ammonia and water sprayed on the slugs has a nice effect but you have to see the little buggers for it to work.

    • Jessica September 7, 2015 at 10:36 pm - Reply

      Salt is supposed to work too isn’t it? Temperatures are so down this summer I’ve seen superslugs crawling around in broad daylight. Asking for it wouldn’t you say?

  37. casa mariposa September 8, 2015 at 1:31 am - Reply

    Beer traps work! Use the nastiest, cheapest beer you can find. Pour some in a cup and bury the cup up to it’s rim in the soil. The slugs drink the beer and drown. Let us know which options works the best. 🙂

    • Jessica September 8, 2015 at 7:41 pm - Reply

      It does seem to be working.. but it’s yukky to empty and I’ve stupidly put it in about the most inaccessible place on the slope.

  38. suefrombrampton September 8, 2015 at 9:13 am - Reply

    I tried ‘ slug pubs’…..bought the cheapest beer I could find courtesy of Mr Tesco own brand. Turned their slimey little noses up at it …failiure!

    • Jessica September 8, 2015 at 8:00 pm - Reply

      Oh dear. The Ruddles seems to be going down well, but it may be a different story when austerity hits.

  39. Sarah September 8, 2015 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    It was interesting to read your results with the nematodes. I too haven’t heard of the shocka mat. Beer traps probably won’t be a good idea in the garden with a puppy who picks up anything he can! Sarah x

    • Jessica September 10, 2015 at 9:29 am - Reply

      Beer traps do seem to work but they’re pretty horrible to empty. A even more horrible thought that Tavi should find one! I was very disappointed with the nematodes. A lot of people swear by them but they didn’t work for me at all. Perhaps the task for them is just too great! They are supposed to be safe to use with animals around though.

  40. Annie Cholewa September 12, 2015 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    Beer traps always worked for us. We’ve had to abandon them in recent years though, after one too many dogs got drunk/high on old beer with added decomposing slug. (I didn’t laugh at the pissed pooch, honest … well maybe just a bit … okay, a lot.)

    • Jessica September 14, 2015 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      Oh yuk, yuk, yuk. Having had to empty these traps I can’t imagine what on earth possessed a hound to consume the contents.. it has put me off beer for life. Not that I was ever really on it.

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