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copper against slugs and snails

Copper Against Slugs and Snails

Snails and slugs do not like to touch copper.

A chemical reaction happens which causes an unpleasant feeling if they move over this metal.

Therefore, they avoid crawling over copper tape or copper foil.

So far the theory.

However, this method and its effectiveness are controversial.

It has led to many discussions and caused some uncertainty.

Copper against slugs and snails: Find more information on Amazon

Does copper work?

Some gardeners have had good results with copper, and in other gardens, the snails only seem to laugh about it.

Some people claim that new copper would not work. Only after it is oxidized and has formed a patina, it would begin to deter slugs and snails.

Apparently, the width of the copper strips also seems to play a decisive role.

Some also say that copper only works when it is damp. Others are convinced of the opposite.

To get to the bottom of all this talk, I designed an experiment and tested fresh and brand new copper tape.

Copper and slugs experiment

For the test, I glued self-adhesive copper tape on the inside of an old transparent cake cover.

Since the tape was a bit too narrow, I glued three lines next to each other to create a two inches (5cm) wide copper stripe.

Then I put in about 30 freshly collected snails and slugs into the thus created copper trap.

What happened within the next 30 minutes I recorded in a time lapse.

The following video shows the result.

Video: Copper Against Slugs & Snails #1

The experiment showed that copper works fine with some exceptions. In the end, both parties were right. It works, and it does not at the same time.

The tape repelled all snails, but two little slugs made their way over the copper tape.

Also, most of the slugs turned around immediately after coming into contact with the copper. But unfortunately, there were also these two exceptions.

As the copper used was dry and bought brand new. Therefore, at least the assumption is refuted that copper must be wet or covered with a patina to work.

That is not true. Maybe it might even work better. (Future tests are planned.)

Furthermore, the next funny video shows how essential the width of the copper strip is for its effectivity.

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

Only a broad copper obstacle leads to success.

Video: Copper Against Slugs & Snails #2

So it becomes clear that copper really works – at least copper tape.

A 100 percent safety cannot be offered, but I would say 80-90% of snails and slugs are repelled, and this is already a good start.

How is copper used to protect the plants?

This method is particularly suitable to protect flower pots, tubs, and other planters since the self-adhesive tape can easily be glued to them.

Also for raised beds copper can be used as suitable and cheap snail protection.

Either one can use wide tape (2 inches or 5cm) from the beginning, or one sticks several narrower tapes next to each other, as seen in the videos.


Copper Tape Offers

Slug Repellent Copper Tape Doff Copper Tape Vitax Copper Tape
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There are also special copper nails to fixate the tape, because the glue might not work on all surfaces. Especially wood might be problematic. Then the copper nails come in handy.

In general, the broader the copper obstacle, the more efficient is its protection. The slugs must not have the opportunity to stretch over it.

If you would like to use copper outdoors, you will need to attach it to a bed enclosure.

The surface material is vital for the longevity of this sort of slug-barrier.

As the tape does not stick equally well on all surfaces, it could make sense first to attach a double-sided outdoor mounting tape, on which the copper tape finds good support.

Then the barrier will become a durable anti-slug guard.

Copper and Electric Anti Slug Fences

Some gardeners also use the conductive copper tape to create an electric snail fence.

Combined with a rechargeable battery, one can use two parallel copper tapes to deter snails.

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

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

More information about this topic here: electric slug fence

Other copper products

Copper mesh wire

Copper mesh wire used against slugs and snails: Find more information on Amazon

There are also snail fences made with copper mesh, which is offered at a relatively low price.

This type of fence is anchored in the ground with pegs or nailed around raised beds.

Some of them have been exposed as ineffective, and others seem to work a little.

I did not yet test them, but I plan to do so in the future.

These products are used a lot in the US, and they are less expensive than the copper foil tape.

For the reviews on Amazon: Click on the picture link.

Copper slug rings and bands

Copper rings are used in the UK but not in the US: Find more information on Amazon

Anti-slug copper rings placed around individual plants directly on the earth have proven to be an effective method.

These models are frequently used in the UK but rarely in the US and Canada.

They are a bit more expensive than copper mesh or tape.

But the reviews on Amazon look promising. For more info: click on the image link.

The rings are a bit more stable than the bands, but they can not be opened and therefore are not suitable for big plants. For small young plants, they proved to be reliable protection.

The advantage of the bands is that they can be opened and therefore also protect bigger grown-up vegetables and flowers.

General notice

With all snail and slug barriers, it is essential to take care of “bridges” or “ladders” formed by plants which could allow bypassing the obstacle.

At best, this possibility should be prevented from the beginning: for example by mulching next to the copper barrier.

Disadvantages weaknesses of this slug controlDisadvantages of copper

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

In addition, it is only suitable for beds that have already a frame.

Open areas need to be equipped with stable bed enclosures before copper tape, or mesh wire could be used.

Copper can constrain a slug attack, but unfortunately, not provide complete safety.

An electric slug fence can hurt the animals and even kill them depending on how much tension is used. It also has some maintenance involved.

Therefore, an electric fence against snails has some disadvantages, compared with an equally effective mechanical slug fence.

But on the other hand it could be constructed as a double-edged method, if one of the copper lines is made 2 inches (5cm) wide, an electric fence would also work during blackout times.

More information on electric fences here: electric slug fence

advantages strengths of this slug controlAdvantages of copper

Apart from the electric fence variant, this method is entirely peaceful and non-violent.

The slimy animals are neither injured nor killed by the copper and just kindly repelled.

There is also no further danger associated with copper, and it can be used as an ornament for pots, tubs, beds, etc.

One of the big plus points is the simple attachment of the tape, especially of the self-adhesive variant. Everybody can do it within minutes.

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

And if it is true that it becomes more efficient with a patina, then its effectiveness even improves with age.

plus minusConclusion

Copper can provide satisfying protection for all kinds of pots, tubs, and all other planters, but not grant absolute security.

But since the copper is durable and easy to use, I can recommend it.

The price of around € 1 per yard (meter) is decent and comparable to many other anti-slug means.

Thus, if you have a lot of pots or raised beds, you might just try it out.

It will not stop all snails and slugs, but at least it will keep some of them away.

Products and prices

General

The copper products that are effective against snails are tape, mesh wire, copper rings, and bands.

For each type, there are some different products in the trade which are more or less identical.

However, they are sometimes very different in price because costs vary depending on the world market price of copper.

Therefore, price comparison is necessary.

Price comparison: Amazon product overview. (If you buy there, I will get a mini-commission.)

Copper Tape or Foil

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

Narrow tape does not do the job because as you could see in the videos, the snails always crawled a bit on the tape before they turned back.

If it is too narrow, they could quickly reach to the other side.

Therefore, it is best to use a two inches wide tape (5 to 6cm).

This width is suitable for most pots, planters and raised beds to make them snail-proof.

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

Bear in mind that the self-adhesive copper foil is very thin and fragile and its adhesive effect can dissolve due to the weather conditions.

Therefore it could be useful to fixate the tape with copper nails or a mounting tape which will make it more durable.

Depending on the design and quality of the tape, the price varies between approx. 0.50 to 2 dollar/pound/euro per yard (per meter).

For an electric fence, you do not need the wide tape. A wire or a thin tape would be enough.


Recommendation: Copper Tape

Slug Repellent Copper Tape Copper Anti Slug Tape Vitax Copper Foil Tape
Find more information on Amazon Find more information on Amazon Find more information on Amazon

Alternatives to copper against slugs

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

Attract natural enemies of slugs

Slug and snail barriers

Slug repellent paint

Snail and slug collars

Slug-resistant vegetables and herbs

Slug-resistant flowers



Slug Control Recommendations

Slug Repellent Copper Tape Garden Cloches Slug Fence
Find more information on Amazon Find more information on Amazon Find more information on Amazon


 

Copper Against Slugs and Snails
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