Adult slugs are soft, slimy, slender animals more closely related to clams and octopi than insects. Slugs have stalked eyes and two small feelers. Some species grow to 3 or more inches long. Slugs have various spots and stripes. Slug eggs are oval and up to 3 mm long. They are clear or cream or yellow and are usually laid in masses sometimes in a gelatinlike substance. Snails will have a similar habit, but carry a shell.
Mature slugs lay eggs anytime throughout the growing season. Eggs are laid in batches of 20, 30 or more under boards, pots or in the soil. Eggs are resistant to drying out and their development may be delayed until sufficient moisture is available. Young slugs develop relatively slowly. Slugs may take up to a year to mature.
Traps - In small plant beds and gardens, place boards or other flat objects on the soil. These traps should be at least 6 by 6 in. Each morning remove the slugs from beneath the traps and destroy them. For snails in water gardens, float lettuce or cabbage leaves on the water surface over night. Remove the leaves with any attached snails every morning until no more are found.
Pesticides - BEFORE USING A PESTICIDE IN A VEGETABLE GARDEN, CHECK
TO BE SURE IT IS LABELLED FOR THAT USE. In some instances, the molluscicide
(slug-killing agent) should be used only at the ends of the garden or in
walkways. For best control, apply the molluscicide on a warm, clear night
under boards or traps. Two or more treatments at 5 to 7 day intervals may
be necessary to obtain adequate control. In the list below are pesticide
formulations labeled for slug control in North Carolina. Because there
is considerable variation in the percentages of pesticides included in
various brands, it would pay to shop comparatively.
Do not use Mesurol or Metaldehyde products around pets. Iron phosphate products are labeled safe around pets, but efficacy reports have been variable, at this time.
Some people have been known to kill slugs with table salt. Note that table salt is not labeled for this use and excessive amounts could affect soils.
Many of these formulations are suitable for home use.
Jim Baker's Key to Common and Potential Slug and Snail Pests of Flowers and Foliage Plants in NC
Robin Rosetta's Oregon State University Slug Page
Identification Guide to Land Snails and Slugs of Western Washington
Key to Slugs of British Columbia
Recommendations for the use of chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact an agent of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in your county.
© 2001 NC Cooperative Extension Service
July 1994 (Revised) April 24, 1998
Web page last reviewed January, 2011 by the webperson.