Control of slugs and snails in gardens

Slugs and snails with their rasping tongue cause damage by making irregular holes on leaves, flowers and fruits. They also trample young plants in the nursery. Their excrement leaves cabbage, green leaf vegetables and fruits unfit for consumption.


They prefer moist and damp habitats. They are nocturnal and active during cloudy and rainy season. They are bisexual and lay around 100 eggs in the soil.

Young ones hatch after 2 weeks and take 5-9 months to mature. Adults live for 3-4 years and undergo dormancy during severe winter and summer.

They are often found to climb on papaya and banana plants and cling on surface of leaves. They retreat into their shell by closing with a mucous membrane called mantle. Slugs form a slimy trail composed of a sticky, viscid secretion given off from the body as they move along. Snails are less troublesome than slugs to the gardeners.

Management practices

Adult slugs and snails may be hand picked and destroyed. Open up the crop vegetation so that the sun light can reach the soil to drive away the hiding individuals. Hiding places can be searched during off-season and snails collected and destroyed.

Dissected pieces of papaya stems may be placed for attracting snails and trapping them. Sprinkle powdered lime around the plant as a deterrent.

Spread common salt in a band around the garden plots. Interplanting of marigold acts as trap crop for snails and slugs.

Rice bran baited with Metaldehyde at 5 per cent or Paris green at 3 per cent is found to be very effective.

Spraying of 1 per cent copper sulphate and broadcasting of 2 per cent metaldehyde pellets gives immediate control of the molluscs.

Application of insecticides such as lindane at 20kg/ha, carbaryl 0.5 per or fenitrothion at 1ml/litre of water is also effective.

Dr. J. Jayaraj & Dr. M. Anathan

Horticultural ResearchStation, Thadiyankudisai Dindigul District Tami Nadu

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