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Snails bugs ate my cannabis seeds

The Best Natural Methods to Protect Your Garden from Slugs and Snails

April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring those slimy pests, slugs and snails.

Raiders of the night, they have a discerning appetite for succulent foliage and flowers. And from dusk to dawn, they can make short work of leaves, flowers, soft herbs, vegetables, seedlings, tender green bark, and ripening fruit.

The armored gastropods can become so prevalent in some locations that growing vegetables and ornamentals becomes difficult, if not impossible.

These sticky critters can overrun bird feeders and hide under the rim of pots and containers, resulting in handfuls of slimy, squished snails when they are moved – ugh! Now that is gross!

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If you enjoy visiting birds and other wildlife or have outdoor pets, you should control these pests in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of tricks and products to control slugs and snails. Some work well, others don’t; some are safe for other garden creatures, while some are deadly to all.

In my experience, management of slug and snail infestations is most efficient when a combination of tactics is used. Baiting and trapping make it easy to remove the creepy cousins, and barriers prevent them from accessing your plants.

Let’s have a look at the best – and safest – suggestions for controlling these pests, so you can enjoy your garden again!

What You’ll Learn

Habitat and Habits

Not all nighttime marauding is caused by gastropods. An easy clue to determine who’s causing the damage is by the telltale trail of shiny mucous they leave behind – if a slime trail is present, you know the culprit is a slug or snail.

Snails and slugs both belong to the mollusk phylum, and have similar bodies and biology. The primary difference between the two is that slugs are without the snail’s external spiral shell.

They both propel themselves with a muscular “foot” that continuously secretes a slimy mucous to help them glide, and both thrive in similar environments.

Both types of gastropods prefer cool temperatures and are most active at night, or on overcast days. On bright, sunny days, or when temperatures are high, they’ll seek cool, shady havens to beat the heat and bright light.

In cold weather, they’ll hibernate underneath any debris that provides shelter, or burrow into topsoil. But in areas with mild winters, they can be active year-round.

Disrupt and Displace

A good starting point for your slug and snail management program is to disrupt and remove their daytime hidey-holes, to the greatest extent that you’re able to.

Preferred hangouts can be a tall stand of weeds or the underside of just about anything on or close to the ground – particularly in moist, shady areas.

Underneath boards, garden decor, planters, ledges, decks, low-growing branches, pot rims, debris, and protective ground covers are all prime real estate for gastropods.

To disrupt their environment, undercut low branches, burn weeds with a weed torch or trim weeds close to the ground, and remove any unnecessary material they can hide under.

Obviously, some areas like rock walls, decks, meter boxes, permanent bird feeders, and so on can’t be removed – but these spots make good locations to bait and trap.

Handpicking

If you have the stomach for it, handpicking is an effective option when practiced diligently.

To lure slugs and snails, water any infested areas at dusk. After nightfall, use a flashlight to hunt them down, pick by hand, and dispose of them – you’ll definitely want to use gloves for this option!

You’ll need to do this nightly until their numbers are decimated, after which a weekly foray should suffice.

Once caught, you can dispatch them in a bucket of soapy water or by spraying with a solution of diluted ammonia. One part ammonia mixed with 10 parts water in a spray bottle will do the trick.

Bait and Trap

A good point to remember is that to bait gastropods is to attract them – so keep bait and traps a safe distance from any plants you want to protect.

The Beer Dish Trap

Simply fill a shallow container with beer and sink it into the soil, then leave overnight. Slugs and snails are attracted to beer, glide over for a sip, then drown in it.

Remove the corpses in the morning, and refresh with their favorite suds!

Containers can be as simple as a plastic deli dish, or you can opt for something a bit more decorative – like this cute ceramic snail.

Hidey-Hole Trap

Create a welcoming environment for slugs and snails to hide under in the daytime with any flat object, or anything that makes a nice gastropod den.

A piece of plywood, thick dark plastic, pot saucers, overturned containers, or anything that will provide cool shade will work. The rinds of citrus (like oranges and grapefruit) and melon halves make an alluring den for them as well.

Water the area first, lay down the trap material, bait with a piece of leaf lettuce if needed, and return in a day or two to remove and destroy the crawly critters.

Repellents

A variety of repellents can be used to divert gastropods away from plants you want to protect.

Garlic

Researchers in the UK have found that garlic oil applied to the soil around crops will repel gastropods, and it kills those that come into contact with it.

An effective method for small-scale gardens is to crush garlic cloves (lots of them – easy to come by if you grow your own!) and lay them around the perimeter of the at-risk area.

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Copper

The natural salts that form from oxidizing copper also act as a repellent. Uncoated copper flashing, banding, and mesh are all suitable options to lay around any area in need of protection.

An adhesive copper tape, like this option available on Amazon, is a good option as it stays in place nicely, maintaining the barrier.

Vaseline and Salt

As the underside of planter rims is a favorite hiding spot, smearing this area with a mixture of Vaseline and salt will act as a repellent.

Coffee Grounds

Scientists have recently found caffeine to be highly toxic to snails and slugs. For use as a repellent, sprinkle used coffee grounds (full caffeine, not decaf) around the edge of flower and veggie beds.

Barriers

Gastropods have delicate tummy tissue, and any sharp materials will irritate and potentially cut their tender undersides.

For an extra layer of defense, build a small berm at least three inches wide with fine stone chips, crushed egg shells, diatomaceous earth (DE), or crushed oyster and clam shells.

Diatomaceous earth is derived from silicon dioxide and has sharp, abrasive edges. But it must remain dry to deter gliding gastropods.

Use food grade DE, not the material used in aquariums (which has smoother edges), and follow instructions when applying.

Biological Controls

For combating gastropods, my personal weapon of choice is beneficial nematodes.

One hundred percent natural, nematodes are naturally occurring microscopic worms that are mixed with water for application.

The best times to apply nematodes are once soil temperatures have warmed up in spring, and after intense summer heat has ebbed in late summer/early fall.

They won’t kill adult snails or slugs, but when applied to the soil, nematodes enter the gastropods’ eggs. They then release bacteria that kills the eggs, then feed off the eggs and reproduce before moving on – with an effective killing rate of about 90 percent.

Nematodes move swiftly through pre-moistened soil, and can be applied with a hose and sprayer or with a watering can for smaller areas.

You won’t see immediate results with nematodes, but the following year you’ll notice a significant reduction in the slimy herbivores.

For best results, make three consecutive applications – spring/fall/spring, or fall/spring/fall. After that, an application once every 18 months will keep gastropod numbers at bay.

Timing is important with this method. A package contains millions of live nematodes, and if you don’t plan on using them immediately, they need to stay refrigerated until application. In the package, they have a limited shelf life of around two weeks.

Nematodes can be purchased online through various retailers. There are different species of nematodes, so be sure that the ones that you buy are listed for slug and snail control.

Before purchasing them, ensure soil temperatures are adequate, and that you’ll have the necessary time available for application.

Predators

Natural predators will also do their fair share in keeping slug and snail numbers down, provided you have a welcoming environment – which usually means no cats or dogs to chase them away.

Some predators known to feast on gastropods include frogs and toads, garter snakes, lizards, hedgehogs, moles, thrushes, blackbirds, magpies, and rooks.

Which brings us to our final tip…

Escargot, Anyone?

They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but I like my escargot served piping hot with plenty of garlic and butter!

If you have snails in the garden, chances are they’re the common, or brown snail, Helix aspersa (aka Cornu aspersum) – one of three main species used for escargot, along with H. pomatia and H. lucorum.

Brown snails have a soft, beige or brown body with a cream or yellow shell and brown spiraling stripes. When mature, they measure approximately 0.75 to 1.25 inches high, and about the same, or slightly larger in width.

If you’re not sure how to identify them, you can always pick up a reference book for your region such as Land Snails and Slugs of the Pacific Northwest by Thomas E. Burke and William P. Leonard, available on Amazon.

Collect them at night (see Handpicking above) and place in an escape-proof bin. Sweeten them for one week with a diet of people-friendly food like lettuce, basil, carrots, melons, apples, and so on. This will improve their flavor and clean out their digestive tracts.

After sweetening, purge for two more days with no food or water.

After purging, place the snails in a lidded quart jar and put them in the fridge for about an hour – this will put them into a deep sleep before cooking.

To cook, par-boil for three minutes, drain, and remove shells. Rinse in water, followed by a bit of vinegar. Then prepare them following this delicious recipe for Bourguignonne escargot from our sister site, Foodal.com.

This is karma at its sweetest!

Of course, if you do plan to use this particular method of gastropod management, your garden should be free of all pesticides – including the so-called “safe” slug and snail baits.

Safe Slug Baits

At present, there are three different types of commercial slug baits sold in North America.

The traditional molluscicide in use since the 1930s uses metaldehyde, which has a highly toxic profile for pets and wildlife, and can find its way into waterways during heavy rainfalls – not a great option for anyone who’s looking for a safe, ecologically sound method to limit gastropod damage.

In the mid-1990s, a new molluscicide (available under various brand names) arrived on the market that uses iron phosphate as the active killing ingredient.

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According to the EPA, iron (ferric) phosphate is considerably less toxic to pets, birds, worms, and other garden friendlies, and is generally regarded as safe (GRAS). But, it’s also fairly slow acting and can take up to a week to kill gastropods.

To speed up the killing action, an inert ingredient known as ferric sodium EDTA (sodium ferric ethylenediaminetetraacetate) was added to some iron phosphate baits – and is also sold as the primary killing compound in other brands.

However, ferric sodium can be toxic to pets and wildlife such as aquatic arthropods, and should not be used in or near aquatic environments.

Other brands combine iron phosphate and spinosad, a natural substance that is toxic to a variety of garden gastropod pests, but not to larger animals.

If you do choose to use commercial baits, read the label carefully for toxic ingredients, and follow application instructions closely. And consider taking steps to keep pets away from these baits.

The Trail Stops Here

Slugs and snails are persistent in their foraging, so you’ll need to match their efforts.

Use a combination of traps and bait, handpicking, barriers, repellents, and predators to effectively control their environment and routines – and your plants won’t be bothered by the gooey little pests again!

What about you folks, do you have any garden problems or questions you’d like to see addressed about these hungry gastropods? If so, drop us a line in the comments below!

And for more information about battling pests in your garden, check out these guides next:

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published June 23, 2017. Last updated: May 19, 2021. Product photos via Arbico Organics, Esschert Design, Kraftex, and Oregon State University Press. Other uncredited photos via Shutterstock.

Slugs or Snails

Slugs or Snails Attacking Your Cannabis Plants? Get Rid of Them Quick!

Ewwww slugs and snails are eating the leaves and buds of my cannabis plants. Although not the most common cannabis pest, slugs and snails are unwelcome visitors when they do show up! Sure signs of snail or slug damage include a trail of slime on leaves, and new holes often have “scalloped” edges where the unwelcome guest has been taking bites out of your leaves with its tiny mouth (often confused with caterpillar damage). After damage has been there a while, the edges start to look more smooth. They are most likely to attack your plants at night.

Slugs almost killed this cannabis plant!

Slugs and snails like to eat the most tender leaves on your cannabis, and although one or two won’t cause a whole lot of damage, if they grow in numbers they can devastate a plant.

Slugs look like snails without a shell

Since they eat chunks out of your leaves, the holes they leaves can sometimes be confused with caterpillar damage. One difference is snails or slugs leave often leave “scalloped” edges since the pests take bites one at a time.This culprit is taking a nap at the scene of the crime!

Unfortunately, these annoying pests attack leaves AND buds, and they can do a surprising amount of damage in a short time, so you want to watch out for them and get rid of them quickly.

  • Large holes in tender leaves and buds, often with “scalloped” edges
  • May appear in the spring, before most other bugs start coming out
  • Leave a trail of silvery slime that may look like spit. The trails will be located on damaged leaves or on the ground near your plants
  • Can actually eat seedling leaves overnight, leaving just the stem

Slugs and snails leave a trail, often on the leaves they’ve munched on, and you may also see trails on the ground around your plants. If you see trails, you know it’s slugs or snails munching on your cannabis!

They often stay hidden, attacking your plants at night, so stay vigilant for slug and snail damage!

Solution to Slugs & Snails

There is no foolproof method to eradicate slugs and snails, but you can protect your plants and try to reduce their numbers in a variety of ways. Although not a cure for slugs/snails, it’s a good idea to allow toads, frogs, and beetles to stay in your garden, as they eat slugs. However, one of the best ways to deal with snails or slugs is to use barriers to physically prevent the pests from being able to get to your plant.

For example, sprinkle circles of lime, eggshells, Diatomaceous Earth, or sawdust around plants.

Diatomaceous Earth is harmless to humans but feels sharp to a slug or snail (this particular bag comes with a powder duster which makes it easier to apply)

Slugs are attracted to saucers, orange rinds, and plastic pots of milk or beer (I’ve read they may even drown themselves in beer).

How to Make Beer Trap for Slugs and Snails: mix flour with some stale beer and use it to fill a shallow container. Place in the garden with the rim 1 or 2 cm above the ground so that slugs and snails can climb in. Substitute beer for wine, sugar water, juice, or water mixed with yeast.

If you’re not sure what container to use, these ones are specifically designed as slug beer traps

BE WARNED, the trap will fill up quickly so come back often to empty.

To be sure you’re keeping your slimy slug population under control; collect them by hand at night or on damp days. Try collecting them under a tile or wet cardboard, and squash all eggs you find while digging. Placing a saucer of salt is another method that will kill snails and slugs.

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Martha Stewart recommends coiling a piece of wire around the base of your plants to give slugs a shocking experience.

Plant Symptoms

This page is part of our Plant Doctor series. You can use our tool to filter by symptom and help diagnose your plant.

How to keep animals out of your outdoor cannabis garden

We know you can’t wait to get your hands on your homegrown weed harvest, but what about all the other creatures out there lurking in your outdoor cannabis garden? Are you in competition? And if so, how best to fight back and protect your stash?

Here’s a list of common list of animals and pests weed gardeners need to know about.

People often wonder if deer eat cannabis or hemp. It depends—when food is abundant, deer often prefer to skip cannabis. Makes sense, given that they tend to turn their noses at plants with strong scents. So, your weed might be safe, but deer will eat everything else in sight in your garden.

But, as is so often the case, there might not be enough alternative food for deer, and they will absolutely eat weed when push comes to shove.

Here are the best bets to keep deer out of your cannabis garden:

  • The only sure-fire way to keep deer out is a deer-proof fence. Depending on your aesthetic and budget, you have options:
    • The classic setup is wire mesh attached to posts.
    • These days a lot more folks opt for polypropylene-mesh. It’s much more affordable than wire, but it’s also a lot less durable.
    • Wood privacy fences or chain link fences also do the trick, but they have to be at least 8 feet tall.

    Gophers and moles

    Often lumped together, moles and gophers are actually two different types of burrowing mammals. Moles burrow underground looking for insects and leave more conical-shaped piles of dirt. Other than a touch of disturbance to your roots, moles don’t really pose much of a threat to your cannabis. Really, you can relax. Moles might actually serve some benefit in aerating the soil.

    Gophers, on the other hand, are assholes. These (mostly) indiscriminate jerks will suck an entire plant down into their tunnels in one fell swoop, leaving you with nothing (they have more of a rounded pile above ground). And sadly, cannabis is on their list of likes, so here are methods to keep them away:

    • Line the bottom of planting beds with gopher wire. Made from 3/4″, 20-gauge hexagonal mesh netting, gophers can’t chew through it. The biggest drawback is how labor intensive it can be if your beds are well-established (that’s a lot of digging). It’s much easier to do at construction time.
    • Gopher baskets are great if lining entire beds isn’t in the cards. They’re essentially gopher (or chicken) wire bent into a basket shape. You can sink them into the bottom of the hole at planting time to protect individual plants. They’re a lot less work than lining an entire bed, but they tend to be pretty expensive per pop.
    • Trapping works, too. There are various brands of traps: Victor Black Box, Macabee, Gophinator, and Cinch.

    Lastly, predators—including owls, snakes, cats, dogs, and coyotes—all eat gophers.

    Slugs and snails

    A telltale sign of slugs or snails are munched outer edges of cannabis leaves and a visible slimy trail nearby. These sticky mollusks tend to prefer younger, more tender plants and pose less of a problem once plants are bigger. Here are a few options to keep your weed slime free:

    • Sluggo, a store-bought product available at any garden center, is the best. Pet-safe and organic, simply sprinkle the pellets at the base of the plant. Replace after rain.
    • Fill a saucer with beer and put it nearby. Expect many drunken, dead slugs or snails the next morning.
    • Though some people swear by lining the base of plants with copper tape, made specifically for the purpose of shocking slugs and snails, it has never worked for me, so I don’t recommend it.

    The big risk with Fido in the cannabis garden is if he digs too close to plants and disrupts the roots. If you see him getting too close, it’s a matter of training him, keeping him on a leash, or just keeping him the hell out of the garden.

    While they’re great for keeping other pests away, cats can pose their own problems in the cannabis garden. Should they choose to use your plants as a litter box, know that their feces can attract unwanted parasites.

    Additionally, their urine, high in ammonia, is indeed not a free fertilizer but a recipe for burn. Be sure to water a plant if you see it’s been peed on by a cat. A great way to keep kitty away from the weed is to line the soil with chicken wire. She’ll want nothing to do with walking across it.

    Squirrels

    While squirrels are otherwise complete assholes in the garden, the good news is they’ll largely leave your cannabis alone. Nuts and seeds (and that almost-ripe tomato) are their go-to foods.

    Rats and mice

    They’re gross, but not going to present much danger to your crop. Just give you the willies.

    Birds

    Unless you’re growing a crop for future seeds—which will be devoured by birds—your feathered friends are otherwise a blessing in the cannabis garden, as they eat all sorts of pests including caterpillars, snails, and slugs.