WSU Extension


Tomato : Slugs
(revision date: 3/10/2017)

Slugs are common garden pests in western Washington. They resemble snails, but lack shells. They may vary in size from as little as 1/4" up to several inches in length, depending on age and species. Foliage of older plants is raggedly chewed, while younger plants may be totally consumed. Slugs leave behind a characteristic slime trail, which appears silvery when it dries. Slugs typically feed at night and do more damage during cool, moist weather.
Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Encourage predators such as birds, garter snakes, frogs, ducks, and predacious ground beetles. Avoid use of broad-spectrum insecticides which kill beneficial insects.
  • Hand-pick and kill slugs when noticed.
  • Clean up weeds and debris which may provide shelter. Cut tall weeds and grasses around the garden and clean up rocks, boards, and other shelters.
  • Trap slugs with cans of stale beer sunk into the ground.
  • Use chemical baits with caution, as pets can be poisoned. Iron phosphate-based baits are safer for pets!
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

Apply around borders and between rows. Do not apply to plants.

Listed below are examples of pesticides that are legal in Washington. Always read and follow all label directions.
  • Escar-Go! Slug & Snail Bait
    Active ingredient: iron phosphate  |  EPA reg no: 67702-3-56872
  • Lilly Miller Slug & Snail Bait
    Active ingredient: metaldehyde  |  EPA reg no: 8119-11-33116
  • Monterey Sluggo [Organic]
    Active ingredient: iron phosphate  |  EPA reg no: 67702-3-54705
  • This list may not include all products registered for this use.
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Caption: Slug damage and slime
Photo by: R.S. Byther
Caption: Slug
Photo by: C.R. Foss
Caption: Brown slug
Photo by: C.R. Foss