Copper Against Slugs and Snails: Does It Work? | Field Tests, Tips and Tricks

Slugs and snails dislike to touch copper.

A chemical reaction happens when they crawl over the metal, which causes unpleasant feelings on their skin.

Therefore, they avoid moving over copper. That’s the theory, anyway.

However, it is controversial whether this method works or not, and it is discussed at length.

This article attempts to end that uncertainty.

Copper tape slugs snails
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Copper Against Slugs: The Experiment

A length of self-adhesive copper tape was glued to the inside of an old transparent cake cover.

Since the width of the tape seemed a bit too narrow, I glued three lines next to each other to create a 2-inch (5 cm) wide copper barrier.

I then collected about 30 snails and slugs and put them into the trap.

I recorded what happened next in this 30-minute time-lapse video:

Video: Copper Against Slugs & Snails Test #1

As you can see, the experiment indicated that the copper barrier worked well.

Only two slugs managed to get out; the copper deterred all others.

In the end, both parties were right: copper does and does not work at the same time.

The tape barrier repelled all the snails, and most of the slugs turned around immediately after coming into contact with the copper.

Unfortunately, there were two tiny exceptions.

The copper used in the experiment was dry and brand new.

Therefore, we can at least ignore the assumption that copper must be wet or covered with a patina to work.

This is not true. It might even work better!

The next video shows how essential the width of copper strips is.

A narrow strip, which the snails can stretch over without problems, is not enough.

Only a broad copper obstacle will be successful.

Video: Copper Against Slugs & Snails Test #2

This video clarifies that copper—or at least copper tape—works well against slugs.

Complete safety can never be offered by any repellent, but I would say 80-90% are repelled.

This is already a good start.

How is Copper Used to Protect Plants?

Copper is particularly suitable for protecting flower tubs, pots, and other planters.

Self-adhesive tape can easily be attached to them, as seen in the video.

Copper can also be used to protect raised beds against slug and snail infestations.

Slug Control for Raised Beds, Tubs, Planters, & Pots

Slug Repellent Copper TapeCopper Mesh Fence
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In general, I recommend using wide copper tape: 2 inches (ca. 5 cm).

If you prefer working with narrower tape, you can stick several pieces next to each other to create a wider barrier.

Alternatively, you can use copper mesh to create a slug fence.

You can also use copper wire—like that obtained from old copper cables—to construct individual copper obstacles.

If you use copper wire, make sure that it is bare and unplated.

A good rule of thumb is the broader the copper obstacle, the greater its effectiveness.

Wide barriers mean that slugs and snails do not have the opportunity to stretch across the safety.

If you would like to use copper to protect your garden beds, you need to attach it to a bed enclosure.

Slug & Snail Fence | Protective Barrier

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The type of surface you attach the copper to will determine the longevity of the slug barrier.

After all, adhesive tape does not stick equally well to all surfaces.

Therefore, it might be helpful to attach double-sided outdoor mounting tape to the surface first.

With this extra tape, the copper will have good support.

There are also special copper nails available that you can use to attach the tape.

Wood in particular might be problematic for tape, so copper nails come especially in handy here.

Peaceful Slug Control & Plant Protection

Slug Repellent Copper TapeSlug Collars | Multipack
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How to Use Copper to Build an Electric Anti-Slug Fence

Some gardeners use copper to create electric slug fences.

With the help of a rechargeable battery, you can use two parallel pieces of copper tape or wire to deter snails.

The fence is relatively easy to construct, but maintenance does require a little more effort.

In addition, slugs and snails can sometimes be killed by the voltage.

You can find more information about how to install an electric slug fence here.

Different Copper Barriers

Besides the copper tape—which you can see in the videos—it is also possible to use copper mesh, copper rings/bands, and copper wire.

Copper Mesh Fence

Copper mesh can be used to deter slugs, rats, and birds from your plants.


To deter slugs, copper mesh should be anchored in the ground with pegs to create a tiny fence.

It can also be nailed or glued to raised beds and planters.

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Copper Slug Rings/Bands

Anti-slug copper rings/bands are placed around individual plants.

They are put directly on the ground and provide effective protection against slugs.

These models are frequently used in the UK.

Copper Bands

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Copper Slug & Snail Rings

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They might be a bit pricier than copper mesh or tape, but they are also more stable.

One advantage copper bands have over coppers rings is that bands can be extended to a larger size.

Because of this, they can protect vegetables and flowers as they grow up.

General notice

With all snail and slug barriers, it is essential to remove “bridges” or “ladders” formed by plants.

These bridges allow pests to bypass obstacles, even very effective ones.

Ideally, this possibility should be prevented from the beginning; for example, you might put mulch next to the barrier.

Disadvantages weaknesses of this slug control

Disadvantages of Copper

The main limitation of copper is that it is not 100% effective against slugs.

In addition to that, copper tape is only suitable for beds that have already a frame.

Open areas need to be outfitted with stable bed enclosures before copper tape can be used.

While copper can reduce the impact of a slug attack, it unfortunately cannot provide complete safety.

advantages strengths of this slug control

Advantages of Copper

Using copper is entirely peaceful and has no negative side effects on the pests or the environment.

Slugs and snails are neither injured nor killed by copper, just kindly repelled.

There is also no further danger associated with copper, and it can be used decoratively.

One of the biggest benefits is the ease of installment for copper tape, especially the self-adhesive variant. Anybody can do it within minutes.

Moreover, copper is superior to other methods due to its longevity.

If it is true that it becomes more effective with a patina, then copper’s effectiveness only improves with age.

plus minus


Copper can provide satisfactory protection for all kinds of pots, tubs, and planters, but it does not grant absolute security.

Since the copper is durable and easy to use, however, I can recommend it.

The price per yard (meter) is generally more affordable than many other anti-slug means.

Thus, if you have a lot of pots or raised beds, it would not be a big investment to try it out.

It may not stop all snails and slugs, but it will at least keep the majority away.

Products & Prices


For each type of copper barrier, there are different products which are more or less identical.

However, they are sometimes extremely diverse in price; costs vary depending on the world market price of copper.

Therefore, price comparison is not only recommended but necessary.

Copper Tape or Foil

As mentioned earlier, the broader the obstacle, the better it works.

Narrow tape does not do the job; as you can see in the videos, slugs and snails always crawl a bit onto the tape before they turn back.

If the barrier is too narrow, they can quickly reach the other side.

Therefore, it is best to use tape that is two inches wide (around 5 cm).

This width is suitable for most pots, planters, and raised beds.

Copper band: 2 inches (ca. 5 cm)

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In addition, copper can be combined with other types of snail control to increase the overall level of protection.

Bear in mind that self-adhesive copper foil/tape is very thin and fragile. More than that, its adhesive can dissolve in poor weather conditions.

Therefore, it could be useful to fix the tape with copper nails or outdoor mounting tape, which will make the barrier more durable.

 Copper NailsOutdoor Mounting Tape
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Depending on the width and quality of the tape, the price varies from around 0.50 to 2 dollars/pounds/euros per yard (per meter).

For electric fences, you do not need wide tape. A wire or a piece of narrow tape will be enough.

Recommendations: Copper Against Slugs & Snails

Slug Repellent Copper TapeCopper Mesh Fence
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Alternatives to Copper

Here are some other slug control methods that might interest you:

How to attract natural enemies of slugs

Slug and snail barriers

Slug-repellent paint

Snail and slug collars

Slug-resistant vegetables and herbs

Slug-resistant flowers

Peaceful Slug Control & Plant Protection

Snail & Slug Repellent Copper Tape | AdhesiveAnti-Slug Fence | Protective Barrier
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Sheep Wool Pellets | Natural Snail RepellentAnti-Slug Collars | For Single Plants | Multipack
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14 thoughts on “Copper Against Slugs and Snails: Does It Work? | Field Tests, Tips and Tricks”

    • Dear Helen, thank you for your comment. You can put it now or in spring – it doesn´t matter (:
      May you have a beautiful day in your garden!

  1. Does copper band loose its effectiveness over time? It feels that the copper bands we put in last year were working better than this year. If that’s the case, how can I clean them?

  2. The reaction is not so much chemical but electrochemical. The slug gets shocked from ground voltage. Your cake cover was too dry and an insulator. Copper needs electrical connection to the ground. A wet container/ flower pot will likely be 100%

    • ??? Ground voltage = 0 Volts, which is why it’s the reference point for all voltage measurements in electrical systems. If you connect copper tape from your pot to a wire and into the ground, you’ve created a grounding electrode (whatever is in the ground that is conductive), a grounding electrode conductor (wire from electrode in ground to copper tape on pot), and that’s fine. It is not however transferring any voltage either from the earth to the slug/ snail or vice versa. My idea is that if slugs/ snails are repelled by any kind of electrically induced means, it might be that the electrons in the copper atoms in hemocyanin (protein that carries oxygen to cells of invertebrates) might interact with the Valence electrons in the copper strip. In the flow of electrons that we call “electricity” At least that’s how it works

  3. Boy do I have a nasty slug and other pest infestation. I bought 2 inch wide tape and now need to adhere it to something to put around my valuable dahlias. They’ve just demolished it. I wanted to say thank you for this article! I love your tests and your findings but more so, I love that you included helpful products and their links. It makes it so easy to purchase. I believe I might need to create a copper fence to fully protect the entire area as J do have many other plants in the vicinity that I am starting to notice a little damage.
    Truthfully, I want them dead. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on various pellet products and I honestly feel they don’t work. Do you have a particular product you know will work? Does insecticide work at all?

    • Hi Stephen,
      it will help a little, but it would be good if you could widen the barrier even more.
      Good luck!

  4. Good tips, am going to try this on my raised beds as the slugs are having a time on my radishes this summer! I think the holy grail of 100% efficacy can only be achieved with a combination of tactics. In my case, I’m going with copper tape and a bramble border to prevent them getting into the beds at all, and for the few who make it in, they’ll get the beer trap treatment. Might be overkill, but they really are a pest here.

  5. Do wire mesh barriers around plants have to be removed in the fall? I am wondering how they fare during the winter months under leaves and snow…and if I will lose them when do I g spring clean-up.


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