One of the biggest challenges one has to face as a gardener is keeping plants safe from pest attacks. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, and pests like slugs somehow find their way into our garden.
Slug pellets might be the go-to solution but it might not be the best option. Slug pellets are incredibly damaging to wildlife and the wider environment. So let’s consider: Do slugs pellets kill birds too?
Unfortunately, yes, slug pellets do kill birds alongside other wildlife you may find in your garden.
Slug pellets can kill birds because they contain the chemical metaldehyde. This chemical works to kill slugs by dehydrating them.
However, in animals such as birds, this chemical damages the nervous system. Unfortunately, birds can die by consuming slug pellets directly or eating slugs that the pellets have poisoned.
Are Slug Pellets Dangerous to Birds?
While slug pellets are effective at getting rid of slugs, they are also dangerous to birds. However, despite this major drawback, a lot of gardeners still choose to use these pellets in their gardens.
There are two ways birds can become poisoned by the pellets:
If you have used the pellets and slugs eat them, the birds, which feed on these slugs, can ingest them.
Birds, also, eat both live slugs and dead ones. This means a slug that has been killed by a slug pellet could still be consumed by an unsuspecting bird.
Due to their small size, even small amounts of metaldehyde can be harmful to birds.
Birds are inquisitive and will peck away and a range of things on the ground – including slug pellets. The small size of the pellets makes them appealing to birds. A quick peck could lead to instant poison.
Are Any Slug Pellets Safe for Wildlife?
Unfortunately, many people are still not convinced about using other ways to kill slugs, besides slug pellets. It’s why the population of some of our most popular wildlife is declining.
However, perhaps there is a form of slug pellet that’s also less harmful to the environment and is safe to use around pets and children?
There is another form of organic slug pellet you can use in your garden which will not cause harm to the wildlife. You can switch to using woollen slug pellets, which do not contain harmful chemicals.
The wool dehydrates the slug and has a rough texture, making it uncomfortable to glide across.
A great thing about using these pellets is that most of them break down and act as a soil fertiliser.
What Are the Best Alternatives to Slug Pellets?
If you wish to skip using slug pellets altogether, there are some alternatives you can use. Using these methods is simple and easy on the pocket:
Make a Beer Trap
The first thing you can do is to make beer traps. This is the most common way people control the slug population in their gardens. You can take a plastic container, fill it with beer and ensure that it has a hole big enough for the slug to enter.
Slugs love the smell of beer and will be attracted to it. In order to get to it, the slug will drown in the beer. If you don’t want to use beer then you can also use grapefruit juice.
Copper, in many forms, can also be used to deter slugs from your vulnerable plants. Use copper mesh around your plant beds to protect them. You can use copper tape on potted plants to keep the slugs away.
The copper is known to interact with the slug slime and gives them a jolt. Therefore, the slugs know to stay away.
Create a Spray
You can also make a slug repellent yourself by using strong ingredients, such as garlic or coffee, in a spray.
Slugs hate powerful smells, and you can use that to your advantage. Making a garlic spray, for example, is as easy as boiling a few cloves of garlic in boiling water to impart the garlic odour into the water.
We’ve put together a dedicated guide to creating a slug repellent spray here.
Simply Remove Them
If you have a few slugs, you can also handpick them from your garden in the evening or early morning when they come out.
Simply head into the garden with a container with a lid, pop the slugs in as you do a quick patrol of the garden, place the lid on the container and dispose of them in the bin.
Unfortunately, when it comes to dealing with slugs, the go-to method is to spread slug pellets around the garden. Slug pellets aren’t just lethal to slugs but can also be damaging to the wider environment and other wildlife.
Slug pellets are harmful to hedgehogs, birds, cats, and dogs.
Instead, you can use woollen slug pellets against slugs that are free from chemicals.