Invasive Slug and Snail Species | Identify and Control Invasive Species

Slugs and snails have become invasive in most parts of the world:

  • Australia
  • Asia
  • North America
  • South America
  • Africa
  • Europe

These are the most important invasive species.

Spanish slugs
The Spanish slug (Arion vulgaris): A major garden pest in Europe.

The Black Slug (Arion ater)

Its home is Europe, and it has spread to Australia, Canada, and the United States.

The black slug can also appear in brown or white. Even green, yellow and multicolor are possible.

Black Slug Arion Ater
The black slug is an invasive species in Canada and Alaska.

In Europe, the black slug lives in woods and is not considered a pest.

In other areas, however, the black slug has become a seedling predator; it is threatening ecosystems in Alaska and Canada.

grove snail
Grove snails like to climb.

The Grove Snail (Cepaea nemoralis)

A native of Europe, it has also spread to North America.

Fortunately, this snail is not normally interested in living plants and is therefore not a threat to horticulture or agriculture.

Garden snail
The garden snail is becoming a pest in many parts of the world.

The Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum)

This species is also a native of, and common in, Europe.

There, the garden snail is even a predator of the eggs of invasive slugs and is not considered problematic.

Settlers brought it to America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, where it became an agricultural pest.

In California, garden snails have become a pest, especially in citrus groves.

leopard slug
The leopard slug is a natural enemy of Spanish slugs.

The Leopard Slug (Limax maximus)

Yet another species originally from Europe and North Africa that invades the whole world.

The leopard slug is present in:

  • North and South America
  • Asia
  • South Africa
  • Australia
  • New Zealand.

In Europe, this slug is welcome because it is a natural enemy of the Spanish slug.

In other areas, leopard slugs are feared because they attack native slugs and snails and thereby threaten local ecosystems.

They are considered a pest neither in the garden nor in agriculture.

More info here: Leopard slugs in the garden.


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vinyard snails
Vineyard snails like to live in groups.

The Vineyard Snail (Cernuella virgata)

Originally, Mediterranean Europe, Western Europe, and Britain were home to the vineyard snail.

It has become invasive in Australia, where it is called ‘the common white snail’.

Mediterranean snail
The Mediterranean snail is invading the world.

The Mediterranean Snail (Theba pisana)

As the name suggests, this snail lives in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea.

It was introduced to many countries all over the world:

  • North Europe
  • California
  • South Africa
  • Asia
  • Australia
  • etc.

In most areas, it has become a serious problem and an agricultural pest.

In the USA, it is considered a potentially serious threat, and it has been proposed that the species be given top national quarantine significance.

Spanish slug arion vulgaris
The Spanish slug is invading Europe.

The Spanish Slug (Arion vulgaris)

For a long time, it was believed that the Spanish slug invaded Europe via salads from Spain, but this turned out to be incorrect.

Nowadays, it is believed that they spread with horticultural earth from France. As recent genetic studies have shown, these slugs are native to Central Europe.

In Spain, they did not exist; they migrated there only recently.

The Spanish slug is closely related to the common red and black slugs (Arion rufus and Arion ater) and shares the same natural enemies.

One of the reasons for the population boom of Arion vulgaris is that its enemies have mostly disappeared from gardens.

Find out here: How to promote the natural enemies of slugs and snails.

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How Can Invasive Snails and Slugs Be Controlled?

It is dangerous to introduce predators because they can become invasive, too.

One of the best ways is, therefore, to attract and promote local predators of slugs and snails.

One underestimated means is the installation of slug and snail fences, which are insurmountable to the slugs.

You’ll find more information here:

snail and slug barrierelectric slug fence connection
Slug barriers overviewElectric slug fence

What else can be done?

Protect enclosed and raised beds or greenhouses with slug-repellent paint.

You also could use virgin sheep’s wool or sheep wool pellets to protect endangered plants.

Another way is to choose slug-resistant vegetables and flowers slugs and snails do not like to eat.

Please do not use slug pellets or beer traps, as they harm natural predators, too.

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Mindful consumption: Please only buy what you or your garden really need.

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7 thoughts on “Invasive Slug and Snail Species | Identify and Control Invasive Species”

  1. Ok, so… I live in idaho, and I bought an aloe plant at Albertson’s. The sticker on the pot stated it came from California. So, I repotted the aloe plant and there were two, small white (almost see-through) slugs burrowed down at the bottom of the soil. I thought they might have been grubs. We didn’t kill them, but are now thinking they might be invasive??

  2. Hi There,
    I found really weird snails in my white currant bush recently. The shells were not whorled, but more resembled a clam shell and were VERY spikey. Any idea as to what they might be? I live south of Ottawa, Ontario.


  3. I live in tacoma, wa, and just found a rather large, bright orange slug in my garden. It has a big breathing hole up by its neck, the Trim is orange with tiny black vertical stripes. What is this?? Is it native?? GROSS!!!


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