Slug pellets: (harmful) methods to avoid: why and how?

harmful methods against slugs

Do you despair of seeing your garden torn to shreds every spring by the onslaught of slugs? Do you feel like cracking down and going toe-to-toe? To get it over with kilos of blue granules and salt, liters of beer, quintals of diatomaceous earth?

Hold back, and read this article, because what you risk doing, can backfire on your garden.


If you've discovered my blog, you're probably bothered by slugs and snails.

You'd probably be very interested in the 7 Steps to get rid of slug by attracting the Alpha predator I have designed with the help of Science, and The slug-proof garden Design I have made (with the help of dozens of scientific studies too).

It changed everything for me. I can finally grow lettuces, cabbages, strawberries and cucurbits without pulling the hair out of my head.

Don't hesitate, you'll probably save a lot of time!

I. Slug pellets: which methods to avoid? Why?

1. Beer traps: the trendy slug pellets

trappola per la birra

Beer traps are a very fashionable way of controlling slugs in the garden. In permaculture, it should be avoided whenever possible. Let’s find out why.


The principle of a beer trap is to attract slugs (thanks to the smell of hops, which they mistake for chicory) into a bowl filled with beer, where they drown.

The problem is thatonly about a third of the slugs drown in the beer dish. The remaining two-thirds go back to graze the lettuces in your vegetable garden.

And, if you also know that beer attracts slugs up to 100 meters away (slugs are mainly identified by their sense of smell), you quickly realize what the problem may be: you see that you’ve killed some slugs thanks to the trap, but there may be many more in your garden than before.


The second impact of beer traps concerns the other “fauna” in your garden. And yes!

Carabid beetles and staphylines, specialized slug predators, can easily drown by falling into the traps, after smelling the attractive scent of dead slugs, candied in their hops.


Hedgehogs, also attracted by the smell of protein, are apparently sometimes driven to eat alcohol-sodden slugs, or even take a swig of beer. Obviously, this is not good for them. They can easily become a little drunk, which makes them vulnerable (for example, it prevents them from curling up to predators, but can also lead them to fall into a pool of water and drown).


In addition to this, we need to consider the -also counter-productive- effect of using lethal methods to manage slugs in the garden: we look at this in Part II of this article.


To find out more, here is an article on the use of beer traps and time-lapse videos of beer trap tests: anti-slug beer traps


2. Slug pellets :

pellet organico per lumache

Slug pellets work on the same general principle as beer traps: attract slugs, then kill them. This time, they die after ingestion of the granules in question, or by destruction of the slug’s cells, resulting in rapid death (metaldehyde granules), or by blocking the slugs’ digestive system, thus preventing them from feeding and causing their slow death (ferric phosphate granules).

The1st problem with using slug pellets is their approved (metaldehyde pellets) or suspected (ferric phosphate pellets) toxicity to the garden and its life.

The common problem with slug pellets is that slugs in the vicinity are attracted over a wide area by their keen sense of smell and the olfactory attractiveness of the pellets. Does it kill more than it kills? Probably, but then major applications are required. The problem with heavy rainfall is that the granules “disappear” into the soil. The attractive substance (starch) remains there, and so continues to attract the slugs, with no active substance left to kill them.


3. Salt: anti-slug and anti-life

image of coarse salt against slugs in the vegetable garden

If you’ve ever used this technique to deal with slugs that steal your nights, I can understand that we all break down one day… But you should know that it’s really not a good idea.

Except for the likely excruciating suffering of salt-dusted slugs, which die a slow death (click here to find out why salt kills slugs), salt has a direct impact (and by the same means of action), on your plants, your soil, and its life (ditto, you’ll understand why in the previous article).

Salt is a serial killer of life in all its forms.

In the garden, its use is strictly forbidden.

4. Diatomaceous earth: the barrier against slugs and beneficials

Diatomaceous earth is very much in vogue as a barrier to slugs and insects in “ecological” or “permaculture” gardens.

The use of diatomaceous earth goes totally against the permaculture philosophy.

Diatomaceous earth kills on contact. A slug trying to cross diatomaceous earth is killed. An ant, beetle or ladybug that tries to cross diatomaceous earth is killed.

Permaculture is about encouraging life in the garden, not placing an automatic element of undifferentiated extermination in it.

Not to mention that the impact of diatomaceous earth on your soil and its life cannot be negligible…

So I think you’d better think twice before using diatomaceous earth as a slug barrier.

And even if diatomaceous earth only killed slugs, it would be counter-productive to your long-term expectations. Let’s see why:

II. Why lethal slug pellets are counter-productive when it comes to dealing with slug problems in the garden?

the imbalance created by Indian racing ducks

An overpopulation of slugs is merely a symptom of a systemic imbalance in your garden system. If you wait long enough (between 2 and 5 years, on average), your garden ecosystem has time to absorb the imbalance, and the number of slugs is much lower each year. This rebalancing, which requires an explosion in the garden slug population, involves attracting their natural predators (carabid beetles, amphibians, hedgehogs, etc.) to the garden. Click here to learn how to attract natural slug predators to your garden).

If you exterminate the slugs every year, regulation won’t be possible, and you’ll most likely have to spread slug pellets every year, sacrifice your beers, etc….


So how do you go about it?

III. What are the alternatives to lethal slug pellets?

slug pellets are a danger to hedgehogs

As we’ve seen, for a lasting solution to a slug problem, you can’t take slugs out of the garden system.

“So, I let my salads be eaten to the core, arms flailing?”


No, no, you can have an influence on accelerating the process of rebalancing slug populations (attracting natural predators, but also favoring soil digestive fungi, among others)


Regarding slug barriers, they are most of the time completely ineffective (read my other articles if you want to be able to believe me with certainty).

Even better! Follow scrupulously these 7 steps 👇

This is the action plan I devised following the findings of dozens of scientific studies on the subject.

I owe the success of my cabbages, salads, strawberries and cucurbits to it.

Click here to find out more:

the seven steps to definitly get rids of slugs


A passionate experimental vegetable grower, I had huge slug problems during my first 2 years of vegetable gardening.

Nothing (eggshells, ashes, etc.) seemed to work…

And yet, if the Internet was to be believed, everything was supposed to work…

In short, faced with an obvious problem of misinformation, I decided to take action: I tested all the famous “slug barriers”, so as to have a clear mind, and know what to do.

I filmed my (13) tests(here, in French)

The results were crystal clear: nothing was able to effectively block the path of slugs and snails, except Water, usable with trenches at least 5 cm deep and 10 cm wide, or Copper, if used vertically, if its height is at least 7 cm

But a water-based barrier is difficult to implement, and copper is expensive…

It was by turning to scientific studies that I found the solution: adopting a slug predator in the garden, present everywhere in the world, which has a huge regulatory effect on them.

The studies show it. And I called this predator the Alpha predator of slugs.

Using dozens of scientific studies again, I constructed an action plan of the most effective arrangements to attract this Alpha predator to the garden sustainably, and to see it multiply by itself, year after year, season after season.

And to get rid, definitively (and intelligently), of slugs.

I have gathered these 7 steps in a digital book that I propose on this site, and at the end of the book, there is also a video training module on designing a slug-proof garden.

You can find this digital book (which contains all of this) by clicking here

And what if you don’t get rid of your slugs by following the advice in this book? It’s simple, I will refund you in full (but it will work, if you follow the instructions properly).

So, don’t hesitate to discover the simple 7 Steps that can change your springs

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