Most of us look at slugs as cute and harmless creatures because of their sluggish nature. But to some, they see them as pesky animals because they destroy plant seeds, chew on leaves or fruits, and damage the seedlings.
So if you’re a plant enthusiast or a beginner that is just getting introduced to the world of planting, then you don’t want these slow creatures getting near your plants. Even though they are slow-moving, they can easily destroy your beloved plants silently.
Some people get rid of slugs using salt. Just a few pinches of it will surely kill these slimy animals. But why does salt kill slugs?
This article will give answers to your questions, as well as more details about slugs.
Why does salt kill slugs?
Salt kills slugs because of a process called ‘osmosis’. Slugs have very thin permeable (penetrable) skin and their cells inside are all trapped with water. So when you sprinkled salt on them, the salt crystals mix with the slug’s mucus which creates a salt-water solution. This solution has a high salt concentration and will make slugs lose much water. This leads to the dehydration of the slugs. Slugs have a high water content in their cells that’s why they need to immediately replenish any water that they lose to their bodies. The osmosis effect will kill them instantly in just minutes of dehydration.
How painful is salt to slugs?
You might be curious to know if slugs feel pain or how bad they suffer when being sprinkled by salt.
When salting slugs, you will see that their bodies shrivel up and wiggle away. This only means that they are badly hurt because air and water are being sucked out of their skin.
And if you’re trying to get rid of slugs, salt may not be the best option. As slugs die of salt dehydration, they become covered with a slimy solution which is not a nice sight. And it can also be quite horrifying to see them struggle.
So if you’re looking for a more humane method to get rid of slugs, read further to know more.
What are other humane methods to get rid of slugs?
- Slugs love to live in areas where vegetation and moisture are sufficient for them to provide adequate shelter. Cleaning the premises, removing refuges, and controlling the weeds will greatly help to keep slugs away from your area.
- Slugs have soft bellies and rough surfaces will be uncomfortable for them. Crushing some eggshells and spreading them into areas of slug activity will surely back them off.
- Slugs are attracted to yeasts. Beer and wine are your best option here. Pour some into a container and let it remain in one area for a couple of hours (or even a day). Slugs will crawl into it and drown.
- Slugs can be kept away using barriers like copper or zinc. These two are toxic to them and they don’t like crawling onto either surface.
- Slugs are not into all plants. There are some plants that they are not in favor of. You may want to opt for slug-resistant crops instead.
- Slugs for whatever reason, don’t like coffee grounds. Maybe it’s the smell of caffeine that they don’t like. This is a great solution to the slimy problem. Simply sprinkle fresh coffee grounds onto your potted plants or garden to keep the slugs away. Be patient as it can take several days before you see them slowly backing off your premises. Not to mention it will also help your plants grow stronger and less vulnerable to garden pests.
- Hand pick the slugs. This may be the least preferred method, but this is highly effective. Considering slugs are slow creatures, they are not that hard to catch. For this procedure to work effectively, it must be done consistently. Do this by checking your plants or garden from time to time. And when you do find slugs, drop them in a mixture of water and soap to kill them instantly.
How do slugs make their way into my garden or house?
Now that you know the reason why salt kills slugs and how to get rid of them, your next step is to find out how this creepy crawlies make their way into your area.
- How do slugs get to your garden? This is because of moisture. Slugs like moist places so the areas most preferred by slugs are under your pots or containers, under wet rocks, or deep in overgrown vegetables.
- How do slugs get into your house? Since they are flexible creatures, they can easily fit themselves into small spots. You might see them squishing themselves through tiny holes in your house or in the pipework.
When is the perfect time to salt or catch slugs?
You will most likely see trails of slugs in your garden or house during the daytime. This is the time for them to escape their predators and get rid of the dehydrating sun.
They will search for the most suitable, moisten corner for them to hide until it gets dark. Slugs are more active during the night. So this is your best time to catch slugs and get rid of them.
Slugs always follow the scent of their slime in order to easily find their way into the same spot every time.
So once you see their trails, follow it to see where it is most effective to lay your traps. You can also catch them on sight and salt them immediately. That is a quick method to get rid of them.
Slugs die through salt due to dehydration and a process called osmosis. Getting rid of slugs through salting is a cumbersome process.
There are other more humane methods to kill slugs such as cleaning the area, using fresh coffee, drowning them in beer or wine, handpick them, or plant slug-resistant crops.