It is sometimes said that slugs (especially the Spanish slug) taste bitter and that for this reason, many animals won’t eat them.
That is not correct. Slugs and snails have many natural predators.
However, for various reasons, their enemies are disappearing in many areas.
This is one of the main reasons why slug populations are booming.
In this article, you will find more information on how to identify and attract natural predators of slugs and snails to your garden.
- 1 Which Animals Eat Slugs and Snails?
- 2 Help Predators of Slugs and Snails
- 2.1 Use More Native Plants
- 2.2 Create Wild Corners
- 2.3 Garden Ponds
- 2.4 Build up Cairns
- 2.5 Use Dry Stone Structures
- 2.6 Build Brushwood Piles
- 2.7 Set up Hedges
- 2.8 Use LEDs
- 2.9 Tidy up Less Often
- 2.10 Leave Deadwood
- 2.11 Dig Less Deep and Less Often
- 2.12 Leave Open Sandy Areas
- 2.13 Mow Little
- 2.14 Abstain from Chemicals
- 3 Conclusion
- 4 Ideas to Control Slugs and Snails
Which Animals Eat Slugs and Snails?
Particularly industrious slug and snail predators are various species of insects (e.g. beetles, harvestmen, and flies).
A lot of beetles and their larvae especially feed on slugs and snails.
For example, they are the main source of food for fireflies/lightning bugs.
Since insect species are threatened with extinction or are already extinct in many areas, slugs and snails can thrive.
The decline in insect populations has become increasingly devastating since the introduction of man-made pesticides to agri- and horticulture.
Please abstain from using pesticides.
Then you are helping these natural enemies of slugs to settle in your garden.
Also, slug pellets use pesticides – so-called molluscicides, which harm not only slugs and snails but also their natural predators.
Video: Ground beetle eating a slug
Please note: Insects are not only sensitive to insecticides but also to herbicides and fungicides.
They suffer a great deal since more and more of the environmental poisons contained therein are being introduced into agri- and horticulture.
This has far-reaching effects, as many predatory animals are suffering from a decline in the insect populations.
For example, hedgehogs, toads, lizards, and songbirds need insects for their survival.
They are also natural enemies of slugs and snails, but they cannot live by feeding on them alone.
Video: Hedgehog eating a slug
The decrease in insect populations is alarming, and there is a need to take decisive counteractions wherever possible.
Every garden can become a small ark for endangered animals and plants.
Species protection in the garden will not only help animals; gardeners also profit because a high diversity of species prevents pest population booms.
Video: Toad eating a slug
If a garden is rich in biodiversity, any slug or snail problem is nipped in the bud.
The more species live in a garden, the lower the risk of a pest infestation.
Click on the link to find out more about insects that eat slugs and snails and how to help them.
List of natural enemies of slugs and snails:
- ground beetles
- leopard slugs
- Roman snails
- and many more.
Video: Blackbird eating a slug
Click on the link to find out how you can attract songbirds.
Help Predators of Slugs and Snails
These are some things you can do to help the natural predators of slugs and snails:
- Offer as many indigenous plants and trees as possible.
- Create wild corners in the garden and leave them alone.
- Create garden ponds with rich bank planting.
- Layer piles of stones with many cavities.
- Build dry stone structures (dry stack stone walls) in sunny spots.
- Pile up leaves in undisturbed, quiet, secluded spots.
- Create blooming hedges with native plants or dead hedges.
- Minimize garden lighting and where necessary use only warm-white LEDs.
- Do not clean the beds in autumn and leave plant stems until spring.
- Leave deadwood and use different varieties of coarse woody debris.
- If possible, do not dig up the soil, only open the surface a little and loosen the subsoil.
- Offer small open sandy areas with open water close by.
- Mow the lawn rarely and insect-friendly (bee-friendly).
- Refrain from using chemical crop protection.
These are things that everyone can do to create little arks for endangered species.
You will find more detailed information below.
Protect your garden
|Copper Mesh Fence||Slug Fence Set: Medium||Sheep Wool Pellets|
|More info on Amazon||More info on Amazon (Europe)||More info on Amazon|
Video: Snake eating a slug
Use More Native Plants
Plants are the basis of life in every garden because they stand at the beginning of most food chains.
A lot of insects rely on specific plants to survive.
It is essential, therefore, to cultivate as many different native plants as possible.
With their flowers and plant saps, herbs, trees, and shrubs nourish tiny animals, which become the food source for almost all larger animals.
That is why it is crucial to let plants bloom and to offer the broadest possible range of flowering plants throughout the year.
Video: Beetle larva eating a slug
Create Wild Corners
A tidy garden is unfortunate for most animals, as they will find little food in it and lack places to live and hide.
It is therefore a great help to leave some areas in the garden to themselves and to allow a certain amount of disarray.
These places do not have to be huge. Even a small pile of branches or little cairns will make many animals happy.
It is important to leave these spots as undisturbed as possible, then their residents will feel most comfortable.
Video: Turtle eating a slug
Almost all animals rely on an accessible source of water to survive.
Garden ponds are therefore always a great help to increase biodiversity even further.
Not only does a pond provide space for unique animals, but many plants also need this habitat.
The bank of a pond can be planted with a great variety of native water-loving plants.
It is advisable to refrain from keeping fish, as they will eat up the snail-eating amphibians and their spawning.
Only in a huge pond is it possible for fish and a variety of amphibians to live together.
Of course, it would be best to create different ponds, then fish, toads, and newts would each have their own space in which to flourish.
Video: Frog eating a slug
Build up Cairns
Many animals love cairns.
A small pile of rocks that includes a lot of cavities is the perfect home for ectotherm animals such as frogs or lizards.
If you wish to create a professional cairn, then pick a sunny spot and dig a 20-inch (30cm) deep hole and fill it with sand and gravel.
On top of the gravel, place layers of large and small stones on top of each other, thereby creating many cavities and hollow hiding spots.
Afterwards, cover the shady side with sand.
Many animals will make themselves at home here.
Some might even be keen to spend the winter inside.
Use Dry Stone Structures
A dry stone structure or wall can heat up in the sun and has many cracks and cavities.
Like a cairn, this provides a home for countless small and large life forms.
The construction of a dry stone wall, however, requires experience.
If not piled up correctly, it could collapse and harm someone.
To create stability, you need a solid foundation and skill in layering.
It is advisable to inform yourself in advance about how to do this.
Video: Beetle eating a slug
Build Brushwood Piles
A pile of twigs and branches is easily stacked up and will be a paradise for wildlife.
For this reason, the custom of shredding the branches in autumn or spring and removing them from the garden is not good for wildlife protection.
The garden might look tidy if you dispose of dead plants.
But it is advisable to leave at least a part of it (preferably all of it) in the garden as in this way you offer many animals a niche to live in and a shelter in which to survive during wintertime.
If the pile is covered with foliage, not only will hedgehogs feel at home, but many insects will also benefit.
Set up Hedges
Hedges of flowering native plants and shrubs are a source of life and therefore a gift to nature.
Since hedges are left alone for most of the year, many species can live in them undisturbed and can multiply peacefully.
If the hedge flowers, it also provides nutrition and increases the attractiveness of the entire garden.
A special treat for wildlife are dead hedges.
Birds especially love dead hedges, as they will find food and safe shelter inside.
For this purpose, branches and twigs are piled up to form a kind of hedgerow.
This is held in shape by wooden posts – similar to a laid hedge.
Video: Ducks eating slugs
Most nocturnal insects are very sensitive to artificial light sources.
Mainly short-wave blue light attracts them magically, and standard lamps are thus often fatal for all kinds of moths and flies.
Therefore, it is beneficial to use only warm-white LED bulbs (1000–3000 Kelvin), as they emit no UV light and only a few blue parts of the light spectrum.
However, it would be better to abstain from nightly lighting in the garden.
Use motion detectors and install lights close to the ground so they only light the spot you need them to.
Try to position and adjust light sources in a way that they cannot trap animals.
Tidy up Less Often
A large number of insects rely on dead plant remains to overwinter in or below them.
Therefore, it is particularly important not to clear garden beds in the fall.
As much dead plant material as possible should be left during the winter.
You will do nature a great favor if you relax and leave dead plant remains until spring.
Dead plant stems and flowers especially are vital; for example, for solitary bees.
You can clean the beds in spring when life starts to flourish again.
This practice may not be pleasing to the eye, but wildlife will benefit enormously.
Video: Opossum eating a slug
Each dead tree trunk can become a species-rich habitat.
It is useful, therefore, to offer coarse woody debris in your garden.
Even better is to provide a variety of different tree species in hidden spots all over the garden.
With little effort, this creates many small habitats that are vital to many insects (for example, beetles and solitary bees).
For this reason, in many gardens, dead trees are used to build deadwood sculptures.
The bigger the pieces of wood and the more tree species you can offer, the better.
Video: Newt eating a slug
Dig Less Deep and Less Often
Soil itself is one of the most important habitats.
Thousands of insects pupate in the ground.
Some species live there for many years before they enter the Earth’s surface as all sorts of different beetles.
It is crucial not to disturb this habitat unnecessarily, therefore, because digging over the soil does a lot of harm to these species.
This is why you could try to dig less often and to minimize its depth.
For the cultivation of many plants, it is enough to break up only a tiny top layer and to loosen the subsoil with a drain spade.
Leave Open Sandy Areas
Some animals need an open sandy surface.
For example, some solitary wasps or solitary bees need these sites to get construction material for their nests.
Some species will also use this place to dig up holes and caves to breed their offspring (for example, digger wasps or beetles).
If an open water source can be found close by, bees especially will be happy.
Then they can make themselves a kind of mortar, which they need to build and close their nests.
Unfortunately, mowing is harmful to many animals.
It prevents the flowering of clover and many other plants in the lawn.
Their flowers are a possible source of food for many insects.
Apart from this, lawnmowers injure and kill many animals directly.
So, it is beneficial to mow less and even to leave some areas of the lawn completely alone.
Mowing them only one to three times a year is enough to prevent trees from taking over.
In these areas, many native plants will flower and provide a habitat for natural predators of slugs and snails to flourish.
Video: Mantis eating a slug
Abstain from Chemicals
As mentioned above, there is nothing worse for the biodiversity in your garden than the use of pesticides.
They are used in many places to ‘take care’ of one sort of plant or animal, but at the same time, they kill a whole lot of others.
Some people are unaware of the damage they inflict by using so-called ‘harmless’ insecticides or herbicides.
Unfortunately, many of these poisons are still in wide use, damaging wildlife to an extent that we cannot yet foresee.
Countless species are already extinct or threatened with extinction.
This is perhaps the main reason why slug and snail problems are increasingly affecting many gardens.
Many insects and amphibians are already gone, which makes it possible for slugs and snails to multiply and spread.
A species, once extinct, is lost and can never be brought back.
It is so important, therefore, to relearn how to cultivate a garden without using poisons.
Tip: On Michelle´s blog ‘gardening leave’ you can find inspiring information about gardening tools. Have a look!
Video: Chicken eating a lot of slugs
There are many ways and means that can help to promote species-rich habitats.
Those mentioned in this article are just a few.
If you start to garden less meticulously and to offer more and more sites for wildlife, your garden will become a little paradise for many animals.
Stone and wood piles, garden ponds, deadwood, and hedges will help to protect Mother Nature and her children.
This allows wildlife to recover slowly and natural balances can be restored.
Thus, the natural enemies of slugs and snails will find enough niches in your garden to thrive.
As a result, snail and slug populations will naturally be kept small.
Additionally, many other pests will be nipped in the bud.
Good luck with developing biodiversity in your garden!
Ideas to Control Slugs and Snails
Protect your garden
|Copper Mesh Fence||Slug Fence Set: Medium||Sheep Wool Pellets|
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Last update: July 19, 2018
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