Slugs and Snails: Facts and Myths

Are slugs attracted to beer? Are coffee grounds a good repellent? We separate fact from fiction about these annoying garden pests.

Here are 4 popular facts and myths about slugs and snails.

1. Slugs are attracted to beer.

FACT: Leave out a dish, or bury a cup halfway in the dirt, and snails and slugs drown themselves in pure pleasure. This method gets varied results, though; some gardeners report escapees. For optimal results, don’t change the beer daily (the nasty things are attracted to the bloated bodies of their own kind).

2. The caffeine in used coffee grinds is what kills slugs and snails.

MYTH: High doses of caffeine are fatal to slugs and snails, but there is little caffeine in used grounds; the water leaches it out. Spreading fresh grounds won’t work either. There’s not enough caffeine in the grounds, and it could affect your soil pH. All you’d get is hyped-up slugs.

3. Copper deters slugs and snails.

FACT: Their slime reacts with the copper to create an unpleasant sensation. Organic gardeners have used copper wire around plants and it has worked for them.

4. Diatomaceous earth is the best way to rid a garden of snails and slugs.

FACT AND MYTH:  Diatomaceous earth sprinkled around garden beds will kill snails. The diatomaceous earth contains silica, which works its way under the snail’s shell, separating the snail from the shell and causing it to dehydrate. While it’s unpleasant for the snail it isn’t fatal. Lime, ashes, and sawdust act as a deterrent, but they lose their effectiveness when wet and can damage your soil. If you want to go the irritant route, try eggshell fragments.

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