Spread diatomaceous earth in a ring around your plants to organically protect your strawberries from slugs. It’s also a great idea to make your own slug trap with a dish and some beer. Alternatively, there are several organic, pet-safe slug killers you can spread around your strawberries. Even citrus rinds can be used to draw slugs to attract slugs to one location in your garden for disposal or relocation. These tactics—combined with a neat, weed-free garden—combine to drive off slugs that will otherwise devour your strawberries.
5 Methods to Protect Strawberries from Slugs
Slugs can be extremely destructive to strawberry plants and fruit. If your strawberries are not protected, slugs can wreak havoc on your harvest, leaving you with no fruit to pick. Here’s how to stop slugs in their tracks:
Spread diatomaceous earth in a 3–4 inch-wide (7.5–10 cm) circle around your strawberry plants. This will kill any slugs that attempt to crawl through the diatomaceous earth barrier. The powder dehydrates slugs as they crawl through, killing them. Even better, diatomaceous earth is an organic product, made of the fossils of single-celled organisms called diatoms.
- Spread this diatomaceous earth in a perimeter around strawberry plants to kill any slugs that crawl through.
- A layer of diatomaceous earth that is 3–4 inches (7.5–10 cm) wide will kill any slugs as they crawl through.
- Diatomaceous earth is organic and chemical-free.
- Diatomaceous earth is made up of tiny fossils that dehydrate slugs and other insects that crawl through it.
- Replenish diatomaceous earth after rain to keep slugs away.
Diatomaceous work only works to kill slugs when it is dry, so spread it on dry ground in a perimeter around your strawberry plants. It’s best to spread it outside of the watering zone to prevent your diatomaceous earth from being washed away. Additionally, it’s a good idea to apply more diatomaceous earth once the ground dries after rain.
- Highly-effective ant and bug killer.
- Kills insects within 48 hours.
- Contains 100% Diatomaceous Earth.
You can install slug traps in your garden to catch and kill slugs quickly. Slugs will be attracted by the bait and fall into the trap to drown. Using yeast-based bait will draw slugs away from your strawberries to your trap. In order to make a simple slug trap yourself, just follow these steps:
- Select a container for your trap, such as a pie tin, a plastic container, or the bottom half of a milk carton.
- Dig a hole in your garden as deep as your container is tall.
- Place the container in the ground, flush with the surrounding soil. Do not cover it with dirt.
- Pour 1 inch (2.5 cm) of beer into the container as bait.
- Alternatively, mix 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of flour, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of yeast together. Add this mixture to the trap as bait.
- Leave the trap uncovered overnight to catch slugs.
Slugs will be drawn to this bait because the smell of yeast draws them. Then, once the slugs crawl over the edge of the container and fall in, they won’t be able to get out. This is an easy way to catch and kill slugs. If you don’t want to make a trap yourself, you can use this covered slug trap to make your job even easier.
Pet-Safe Slug Killer
In order to kill slugs quickly and effectively, use a pet- and wildlife-safe slug killer. Most slug-killing products can be spread on the ground. In fact, the best slug killers are rain and moisture-proof. This means that you won’t have to reapply the slug killer after watering your strawberries.
- Use this organic slug killer to kill unwanted pests.
- Spread slug killer on the ground according to product instructions to protect your strawberry plants.
- Choose an animal-safe slug killer to avoid poisoning pets and wildlife.
- Good slug killer is water-resistant, so you won’t have to reapply after a light rain.
Although some older slug-killing compounds were unsafe for pets and other animals, several products on the market today can kill slugs safely. This means you won’t have to worry about harming your pets or any other animals while you protect your strawberries from slugs.
Citrus rinds make a good distraction that lures slugs away from your strawberry field. To create a nonlethal slug trap from an orange or grapefruit, simply follow these steps:
- Slice an orange or grapefruit in half,
- Scoop most of the flesh of the fruit out of the fruit for your own use, but leave some clinging to the inside of the rind.
- Place the rinds in your garden, several feet (1–2 meters) away from your strawberries.
- Leave the rinds overnight.
- Check the rinds in the morning, to see how many slugs have been drawn to them.
Often, several slugs will be drawn to a single citrus rind. They will crawl into the “bowl” of the rind and stay there. When you find the slug-filled rinds in the morning, you can throw them away with the slugs, kill the slugs, or move the rinds far from your strawberry patch so that those slugs can no longer attack your strawberries.
Remove Slug Habitats
One of the best ways to keep slugs out of your strawberry patch is to make the space less inviting to slugs. Remove weeds, dead leaves, and debris that slugs can hide under. If you have a slug infestation, it’s also best to rake mulch away from your strawberries and leave the ground bare. Slugs love to hide in moist mulch.
- Slugs thrive in crowded, moist environments.
- Reduce slug hiding places by removing weeds, dead plants, and debris from your garden.
- Rake mulch 12–24 inches (30–60 cm) away from your strawberries to prevent slugs from hiding in the mulch.
- Water strawberries 1–2 times per week instead of daily. Daily watering makes the perfect moist habitat for invasive slugs.
It may also be a good idea to change your watering habits to keep slugs away from your strawberry patch. Slugs love constantly moist soil, but strawberries benefit most when they are watered deeply 1–2 times per week, followed by a period without water. Proper care will not only help strawberries produce more fruit, but it will also drive off slugs and snails.
Do Strawberries Attract Slugs?
Strawberry fruit is an extremely tempting target for slugs. Slugs are drawn to sweet, tender fruits that they can easily eat. Plus, strawberries grow close to the ground, which makes them easy prey for slugs. If you have strawberries in your garden, it’s very likely they’ll attract slugs.
- Slugs are drawn to strawberries due to the fruit’s high sugar content.
- There are other fruits that also attract slugs such as citrus.
- Slugs are also attracted to ethylene gas which is a byproduct of most ripening fruits.
Another reason slugs pursue fruit is ethylene gas. This gas, which is a byproduct of fruit ripening, attracts slugs. So, slugs will go after many fruits. If slugs are attacking your strawberries, it’s a good idea to protect your other fruit plants as well.
Will Slugs Ruin Strawberry Plants?
Slugs will ruin your strawberry crop if given half a chance. Once slugs appear in your strawberry patch, it won’t take long for slug damage to appear. Ragged holes in your strawberry fruits are the most common sign of slug infestation. If you suspect you have slugs, turn over a few rocks or bits of wood in your garden to see if you find any slugs.
- Slugs will danger your entire strawberry plant in an attempt to eat the strawberry fruit.
- If you aren’t careful, slug damage can kill your whole garden.
- Slug trails attract more slugs, which can lead to an infestation.
Slugs will eat through your whole plant, including the leaves in pursuit of eating fruit. Worse yet, the slime trail they leave will attract more slugs and can cause a slug infestation. This is why you must remove slugs quickly. Then, use soapy water to wash away slug trails.
How to Stop Slugs from Eating Your Strawberries
Slugs can be kept out of strawberry gardens through several methods. The most reliable and effective ways to protect strawberries from slugs are:
- Spread a ring of diatomaceous earth around your strawberry plants.
- Make a slug trap out of an old container with 1 inch (2.5 cm) of beer poured into it.
- Use organic methods of slug control, such as organic slug pellets.
- Leave citrus halves in your yard to attract slugs—then throw the citrus halves out once slugs crawl onto them.
- Clean up your garden to reduce clutter and get rid of slug hiding places.
These are the most effective and simple methods for stopping slugs. Other methods—such as using coffee grounds or copper tape—aren’t as reliable. By using highly effective methods, you’ll get rid of the slug menace once and for all.