How Long Do Slugs Live?

As a gardener, you probably know one thing about slugs: They are pests that cause damage across your garden. But there’s more to the common slug than you might think. Let’s first take a look at how long do slugs live for:

Generally, slugs live for between 12 and 18 months although, in some rare cases, it can be as long as 6 years.

Although it tends to be around 18 months that a slug lives for, they can leave for up to 6 full years if they are able to survive extreme heat and freezing colds.

But the problem isn’t really how long they live for, it’s their ability to reproduce en masse when they are alive. This is what causes endless damage to your garden.

Where Do Slugs Live?

Slugs require an environment that is high in moisture. These slimy pests thrive in areas that are cool and damp. Slugs rely heavily on moisture which helps them stay hydrated and produce slime. 

Gardens are a place suited perfectly to a slug’s needs. There are endless places a slug can hide in whether that’s cracks in rockeries, under pots or in foliage.

Slugs choose to hide during the day, especially in summer, to seek shelter from the sun or any harsh weather. This is why you’ll usually see slugs coming out at night and not during the day.

How Often Do Slugs Reproduce?

The major problem with slugs is their incredible ability to reproduce over and over. ONe major advantage that slugs have is that they are hermaphrodites. This means they can mate with any other slug, no matter their gender.

Their eggs can be dormant for many years before they hatch when the conditions allow. This means you can incorrectly assume you have dealt with a slug infestation to then be inundated with a new generation of slugs.

Slugs will reproduce multiple times each year. Every time they reproduce they can lay up to 100 eggs!

How Long Before a Slug is Fully Developed?

Slugs have a fairly short life cycle. Once they hatch from their eggs, they will be neonates which spend a few weeks eating fungus and staying close to where they hatched.

They then become baby slugs who will go further to explore. They will only do this if conditions are right. If it’s too hot then they’ll remain hidden where they can survive without food for several months.

After being a juvenile slug, they’ll become adult slugs that you’re used to seeing in the garden. It is at this stage that they have the ability to reproduce and lay eggs. This is also when they’ll cause the most damage to your plants and garden.

Slugs can take a full year to develop into a fully developed adult slug which can be anywhere from 5cm to 12cm in length.

How Do You Stop Slugs Reproducing?

Slugs will only reproduce and live where conditions are perfect for them. If your garden is full of damp cracks and moist corners then a slug will spend time there. Unfortunately, ridding your garden of these perfect spots is near-impossible.

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You can try, of course, which means removing stacks of disused pots, wiping down pots, cleaning under garden furniture and disturbing gaps in rockeries and checking log piles.

You can also take things up a notch by encouraging slug predators into your garden so that slugs no longer think your garden is safe. Hedgehogs, frogs, toads and birds will all eat slugs so do what you can to make your garden attractive to these animals. This could include installing a small garden pond which will instantly attract both frogs and birds.

It is reported that a whopping 95% of slugs are likely to live underground feeding on seeds and roots. This means you might never see most slugs that are living in your garden (and reproducing in it).

Summary 

Slugs can live for an unbelievably long time. Although in some cases, they can live for several years, most slugs will only live for 12 to 18 months. The main issue with slugs is their ability to reproduce and lay 100s of eggs a year.

Slugs like to live in warm and moist environments. If you want to ensure slugs don’t take hold of your garden then you’ll need to spend time checking these hiding places regularly. Unfortunately, because slugs can also burrow and hide underground, it can be impossible to stop slugs.  

You can try to remove some of these hiding places. You can also attract predators. But, chances are, you’ll always have some slugs in the garden.

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