WSU Extension


Common Insects & Mites : Slugs
(revision date: 4/30/2013)

Slugs damage a number of ornamental and garden plants. Older leaves may be raggedly chewed, while young tender plants may be partially or completely consumed. Slug damage, unless you catch slugs in the act, may be misdiagnosed as that of cutworms or other chewing insects. Accurate diagnosis can be enhanced by checking the plant at night or by checking for the characteristic slime trails and pretzel-shaped fecal droppings slugs leave as they feed.
Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Trap slugs with cans of stale beer sunk into the ground.
  • Use chemical baits with caution, as pets can be poisoned.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

Slug bait may be useful in certain situations. Make certain that the product that you purchase is labeled for the target host or site. For more information, refer to the fact sheets for slugs on specific hosts.

    - hide images

+ Show larger images

Caption: Brown slug
Photo by: C.R. Foss
Caption: Slug
Photo by: C.R. Foss
Caption: Slug damage on iris
Photo by: A.L. Antonelli