What Do Slugs Eat?

What Do Slugs Eat

As a gardener, slugs can be your worst nightmare. They slowly work their way around your garden, without you seeing them, eating up leaves and plants as they go, causing complete havoc. But what do slugs eat mostly? And what do they avoid?

Slugs are not fussy when it comes to what they eat. They consume a variety of plants, dead animals, other insects and even other slugs. 

But what do slugs eat the most? Are there plants they will devour and others they will avoid? Let’s find out more!

What Do Slugs Eat Then?

Garden slugs are omnivores, and they attack plants mostly. Apart from plants, slugs may eat dead plants and animals. 

Slugs love to eat tender plants. There are some plants and flowers which they love to devour when they are young such as pea shoots, nasturtiums and marigolds.

Here are some slugs favourites:

Leafy Greens

Slugs love munching on green leaves because they are soft. It doesn’t matter what plant, vegetable or fruit the leaves are on – if they’re green and soft then a slug will munch its way through the leaves quite happily.

The texture of the leaves makes it easier for the slugs to glide and munch on them. Some slug favourites include iceberg lettuce and chard. 

Strawberries 

Another slug favourite is strawberries. Since the strawberry leaves are rough, slugs prefer only eating the fruit which is the worst-case scenario really as that’s the only reason for growing the fruit in the first place.

Slug on Strawberry

Celery 

Slugs eat celery, especially the younger plants. Many people recommend planting out mature celery plants if you are a beginner because the younger ones are more vulnerable to slug attacks. 

You can still sow celery at home but make sure you keep them undercover in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame until they have become established and strong enough to withstand a slight attack.

Cucumbers 

Another vegetable that slugs love to eat is cucumbers. Like celery, smaller cucumbers are prone to slug attacks. The leaves become rough on more established plants so slugs will avoid them.

Like celery, it’s a good idea to grow them with protection until they are large enough to be planted out.

Marigolds 

Marigolds are bedding flowers that slugs love to eat. They’re attracted to their bright colours and are particularly fond of them when they’re small and tender.

Marigolds work particularly well as a trap plant which you sacrifice to protect other produce. If you have an issue with slugs eating cabbages, for example, then interplanting with marigolds can draw the slugs away.

Hostas

Hostas are infamously loved by slugs. It seems as if a slug is able to detect a newly planted hosta within a matter of minutes of it being planted out, unfortunately.

Fortunately, there are some slug-resistant hosta varieties available if you do want to grow them in a garden that is prone to slug infestations. We’ve compiled a complete list of slug-resistant hostas here.

Slug Eats Hostas

Dahlias

Dahlias are delicate, exquisite flowers loved by gardeners across the globe… But it’s not just gardeners who love them. Slugs do too!

Unfortunately, dahlias will often be attacked by slugs at any point during their life whether they’re small plants or established plants. One of the best ways to deter slugs from dahlias is to plant trap plants nearby.

Sunflowers

When small, sunflowers are a favourite for slugs which is why, like marigolds, they can often be used as a trap plant.

Cabbages and Brassicas

Like hostas, cabbages and brassicas are loved by slugs (and most pests in the garden, unfortunately). Of all the vegetables to grow, cabbages are one of the toughest to keep clear of slugs.

Slug Damage on Brassica

Fungi

Although this is unlikely to impact your actual plants, slugs will also happily eat fungi growing in your garden.

There are two ways to look at this: First if they’re eating fungi then they’re not eating your plants so this is a good thing. However, fungi might attract slugs to your garden. When the fungi have gone, they’ll move on to your veggies.

Earthworms

Although slugs have been known to munch on other slugs and other insects, the most common living thing they will eat is the humble earthworm.

This is yet another reason why slugs are bad. Earthworms work wonders in the garden, especially in your soil. When you mulch, earthworms crawl to the surface and pull down goodness from your mulch material doing the hard work for you.

What Do Slugs Not Eat?

While there are many vegetables and plants that slugs love to consume, there are still some that they do not find appealing.

Slugs are omnivores, but there are still times when they are choosy about the food they consume.

Some vegetables which slugs do not like to eat are larger cucumber plants, asparagus, chives, fennel, garlic, established melons, established peas, onions, and tomatoes. 

There are also certain herbs that slugs do not like. Usually, the majority of the herbs are disliked by slugs because of their smell. Slugs might still consume these herbs if nothing else is available.

Slugs hate herbs like chamomile, coriander, lavender, lemon balm, nasturtium, rosemary, and sage. 

Summary 

As you well know, slugs are not particularly fussy eaters. They will devour plants throughout your garden and vegetable patch. Some things are particularly loved by slugs including cabbages, brassicas, leafy greens and marigolds.

If your garden is prone to slug infestations then it is best to avoid growing these and to stick to plants that are less attractive to slugs.

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