If you have ever had a conversation about slugs in your garden, then you have likely heard someone respond with ‘use salt’. Is that because it is something that slugs like and can lure them, or because it is something they hate? We’ll have a look below and also at how we can use this information to help deal with a slug infestation.
Do Slugs Dislike Salt?
Slugs will try to avoid contact with salt for a very simple reason, salt kills them.
However, it takes quite a lot to do so and when slugs come into contact with the smallest amount of salt, they seem to recoil and retreat. Therefore, slugs do not like salt as it is uncomfortable and deadly.
Is It Cruel to Put Salt on Slugs?
There are a lot of myths surrounding how salt kills slugs, some people say that they melt the slugs or that it causes instant death. These myths are not strictly true, salt kills a slug by dehydrating it.
Salt can kill a slug almost instantly, but it takes a great amount to do so, and it is still not instant, nor does it seem to be pain-free. Salt mixes with the slippery solution that coats a slug, this solution is extremely saline, meaning that it has very little water content.
Osmosis acts to fix this and masses of water are drawn out from inside the slug. This means that using salt to kill slugs is a long process that is very painful for the slugs.
As well as being quite cruel in nature, there is another reason why you shouldn’t use salt to kill slugs. Sprinkling salt on slugs, when they are outside on your plants, can damage your plants as well.
The increased salinity in the soil can prevent your plants from growing and sometimes even be fatal to them. Therefore, there isn’t much of a benefit to killing slugs in this way.
Do Slugs Feel Pain from Salt?
Slugs do feel pain from salt. They might be small, insects but they will still suffer in pain. By using salt on a slug, you are dehydrating and burning them.
Being dehydrated and burnt alive hardly sounds pain-free, does it?
Does Salt Impact Other Garden Pests?
Slugs are not the only ones that have strong reactions to this substance. Here is a short list of some other pests that are affected by the presence of salt.
Snails have a very similar body to slugs and, just like them, salt will kill them because it will form the saline solution that dehydrates them. Just like with slugs, it is advised that you do not use salt to kill them as it is inhumane and can also cause damage to your plants.
Ants do not dislike salt, on the contrary, they love the stuff. They will leave scent trails for the other ants in their nest to be able to navigate their way to the salt. Whilst you can use salt to act as a trap for the ants, the possibility of attracting these insects is something you should be aware of if you are planning on using it to deter slugs.
Salt can kill spider nests and spiders themselves and this is something that you do not want to happen. Spiders very rarely become pests in your garden and will actually help to control the other populations of pests, such as aphids, that you want to be rid of.
How Do You Get Rid of Slugs Safely
Since salt is not the best way to remove slugs as it can cause some damage to your plants, here are a few simple ways that you can deter slugs without causing any further harm to your garden.
Encourage Natural Predators
If you want to be rid of the slugs once and for all, encouraging natural predators is probably the most humane way to do so. Many slug predators, like hedgehogs, can be encouraged to visit gardens if there is a suitable shelter set up.
As well as helping to keep your garden safe, this method helps to look after the wildlife population.
Use Difficult Terrain
Because of the way that slugs travel, there are a variety of terrains that they find difficult to cross. Some of these terrains are gravel, slate and mulch.
They do not like to cross these because they can be very uncomfortable. They also have a lot of small pieces and sharp edges that can stick and lodge into the body of a slug.
Placing gravel or mulch over your bedding plants will drive slugs away as they will simply avoid trying to navigate this terrain.
Use Coffee Grounds
Sprinkling coffee grounds over the soil is a great way to repel slugs. Slugs do not like to come into contact with caffeinated soil and they will turn around and leave as soon as they do.
Coffee can also provide some nutrients for the soil to help your plants grow but be careful as too much can actually stunt the growth of your plants.
Coffee grounds are also good to use because they are biodegradable and they help to deter other types of garden pests as well, including squirrels.
The most effective way of keeping slugs out is to use a combination of methods as none of them are completely foolproof from the notorious slugs.
Slugs dislike salt because it is uncomfortable and deadly for them. Salt kills slugs by mixing with the solution on its body and dehydrating the slug through osmosis.
Using salt to kill slugs can also damage the soil your plants are growing in. Other ways that you can deter slugs include attracting natural predators, using difficult terrains such as gravel and mulch and sprinkling coffee grounds over your soil.