Urban Food Garden

PEST CONTROL: Slugs & Snails Part One


This page is part of the “DEFEND” section of the Three Ds Pest Control program, which is a gradual three stage approach to protect vegetables from pests that is designed to minimise the use of pesticides.  DEFEND is when you actively kill pests attacking your plants, but only with environmentally friendly methods and only after DETER methods have failed.  For an overview of the Three Ds Pest Control program click HERE.


The simplest method of getting rid of large slugs and snails is to go out into your garden at night with a torch and remove them by hand.  Going out for two or three evenings in mid Spring for a half hour hunt can make a large dent in your gastropod population.

They can by killed by: –

  • Putting them in salty water.
  • Crushing under foot or a brick.
  • Feeding them to your chickens.

Though chickens will usually only eat small numbers of slugs and snails at a time.  By hand removing slugs and snails not only will you be able to get rid of large numbers of these pests quickly you will be able to work out where the biggest concentrations of them are coming from, so you can target those areas with other pest control methods.

Large slugs and snails can be easily collected at night by torchlight.


Large slugs and snails will travel into a vegetable patch from nearby cover to feed at night, returning to the cover to hide during the day.

If you place objects, such as pieces of old timber or damp Hessian bags, on the edges of your vegetable patch then a percentage of these travelling slugs and snails will end up under these objects during the day. All you need do is occasionally lift up the timber or Hessian and remove any slugs and snails that are hiding under them.

Old pieces of timber or hessian left at the edges of your vegetable patch act as good cover traps for large slugs and snails.

Cover traps encourage slugs and snails to hide were they can be easily collected and disposed off.