How To Keep Slugs From Strawberries

How To Keep Slugs From Strawberries

Have you been wondering how to keep slugs from strawberries lately? It can be heartbreaking to find out that the strawberries you’ve been waiting to pick for so long have been savaged by slugs! Thankfully, there are certain measures you can take to save your crop from further damage.

Make the area less hospitable to the slugs by preventing wet conditions, eliminating their hideouts, encouraging predators in the garden and using slug repellents. Other ways to control slug population include deploying slug traps, using diatomaceous earth and organic slug killers.

To put up a successful fight against slugs, it’s worth learning how to use these techniques, either singly or in combination. Often, slug management includes trying out several techniques before you can enjoy slug-free strawberries from your garden.

How To Keep Slugs From Strawberries

How To Keep Slugs From Strawberries

Slugs love eating ripe strawberries.

Just when you start thinking the harvest time is approaching, slugs turn up to shatter your dreams of those perfect garden-fresh strawberries.

They eat away the ripe fruit, leaving holes in the strawberry.

These holes render the fruit inedible and also attract other pests, including beetles and weevils to your strawberry patch.

There are many techniques you can use to keep slugs from strawberries.

Planting slug-resistant plants around the strawberries is an effective organic approach.

Agapanthus, bamboo, hens and chickens, sedum, sweet woodruff are some of the plants you can grow to keep slugs away.

Another approach is to tweak your irrigation schedule.

Avoid watering strawberries in the evening because that’s when slugs will feed and they love wet conditions.

Some simple adjustments to the garden can help keep slugs away from your strawberries naturally.

You don’t have to resort to chemical means unless it’s absolutely necessary.

The last thing you would want is to ingest any chemical-laden strawberries that could harm your health.

Chemical control also harms beneficial insects, birds, worms and other wildlife in your garden.

Check out our complete article for how to keep slugs out of your garden.

How Do You Keep Slugs Off Strawberries

How Do You Keep Slugs Off Strawberries

Are slugs attacking your beautiful strawberries?

Before practicing techniques to keep slugs off strawberries, it’s worth making sure that it’s slugs that are bothering the plants.

If you confuse their damage with some other pest that’s actually the culprit and use the wrong technique, all the efforts will go to waste while the critters continue eating away your harvest.

So the first thing you’ll need to do is to diagnose the problem.

Inspect the garden at night because that’s when slugs are most active and easy to spot.

Once you’re sure that it’s slugs that you’re up against, there are some effective techniques to keep slugs off strawberries.

Creating barriers around the strawberry plants can help keep off slugs.

Many gardeners install a barrier of copper strip around the strawberry plants to keep the slugs out.

Tests have shown that slugs can experience an electric shock if their body comes in contact with copper.

When purchasing copper strips from the garden center, make sure they are wide enough that slugs can’t cross over it by raising their bodies.

If you’re growing strawberries in raised beds, you can simply staple copper tape around the boundaries to keep slugs off.

Other barriers include diatomaceous earth and wood ashes.

Both the materials repel slugs in dry form.

Sprinkle them around the plants to create a boundary that slugs won’t cross.

These repellants irritate the skin of slugs when they come in contact with them, thus preventing them from crossing the barrier.

How To Keep Slugs Off Strawberry Plants Organically

How To Keep Slugs Off Strawberry Plants Organically

One of the challenges of organic growers is to decide on which techniques to employ that will get rid of the pests but will keep the garden and their harvests organic.

If you’re looking for organic management for slugs in your strawberry garden, you won’t be disappointed.

With the sudden boost in the number of organic farms to attract health conscious people, many techniques have been developed to manage pests organically.

Slug traps are available at most garden centers and are effective in keeping slugs off organically.

Leave these traps in place for a day before turning them over and collecting and discarding the slugs.

You can also make homemade traps by placing inverted watermelon rinds, cabbage leaves or flower pots around the plants.

Slugs will feed during the night and hide under these traps during day time.

Check these traps and destroy the pests every morning until their population drops.

The buggers you find also make a good addition to your compost heap.

Many iron-phosphate based slug baits are also approved for organic farmers.

These commercial, organic baits are toxic to slugs and snails but are certified safe for humans, pets and pollinators so you may use these besides other organic practices.

Check out the complete article on how to get rid of slugs naturally.

Another organic method some gardeners use for controlling slugs is coffee grounds.

Check out the full article on using coffee grounds in the garden.

How To Get Rid Of Slugs On Strawberry Plants

How To Get Rid Of Slugs On Strawberry Plants

So you’ve spotted snails around your strawberry patch.

Even if you haven’t spotted these limit creators, their damage easily gives them away.

Round holes in leaves and fruits, decapitated seedlings, traces of silvery slime on the leaves and ground are all indications that slugs have been sneaking around the strawberry plants.

So once you know for sure that slugs are eating away your strawberries, what can you do to get rid of them?

One of the most popular techniques used by gardeners to get rid of slugs on strawberry plants is to install beer traps in the area.

Bury a few yogurt or margarine containers into the soil around the strawberry plants such that the rim is at soil level and fill them with beer.

Slugs are attracted to the fermentation taking place in the container.

They will visit the container every night and drown in the mixture.

You’ll need to discard the contents of the container and fill them up again every time they’re filled with slugs.

Instead of beer, you can also use a water, sugar and yeast mixture since it will also ferment and create the same effect.

Another straightforward approach is to go out on patrol every night, hunting for slugs and destroying any you may find.

Pick the slugs off the strawberry plants and drop them in soapy water to destroy them.

Of course, this is a labor-intensive technique and not always feasible, especially if the slug population is high.

Be sure to check out the fill article on using beer in the garden.

How To Stop Slugs On Strawberries

How To Stop Slugs On Strawberries

Slugs love your strawberries just as much as you do. They’ll eat away the ripe fruits quickly, leaving behind mutilated, unsightly fruits for you.

Unless you take serious measures to stop the attackers, you won’t be able to keep any of those lovely strawberries for yourself.

Other than the homemade beer trap discussed earlier in the post, different varieties of slug baits are available commercially too.

Some of these products are approved for organic farmers, while there are non-organic options too.

Several varieties of iron-phosphate based slug baits, including Sluggo and Escar-Go, are approved for organic growing.

Iron-phosphate works by disrupting the calcium metabolism in the slug’s digestive system, causing them to stop feeding and die within a week.

Alternatively, Metaldehyde-based slug baits, including Deadline, are also used conventionally by farmers, though they are not organic and should be avoided on edible crops.

Metaldehyde works by dehydrating the bodies of slugs and snails. However, if there’s a forecast for rain soon after the application, or there’s water in the vicinity, the product will have reduced efficacy.

These baits will need to be reapplied weekly and after every rain for it to be effective.

How To Keep Slugs Out Of Strawberry Patch

How To Keep Slugs Out Of Strawberry Patch

Your strawberry patch will need some additional care if you fear there are slugs around the area.

Look for ways to make the patch less welcoming to slugs and keep them out.

Preventing Slugs

Slugs love moisture and shelter and if we can take that away, it might just be possible to overpower them.

Slugs love wet conditions, so that’s what you should aim at avoiding.

Prevent overly wet soil and water less frequently to discourage the slugs from visiting the patch.

Get rid of any loose mulch around the plants where the slugs might hide.

Avoid using straw and hay mulch, and instead, replace it with compost or leaf mold if you want to mulch the plants.

Though you should water less frequently, every time you water, water deeply so the moisture requirements of your strawberry plants are addressed.

Best Way To Stop Slugs Eating Strawberries

Best Way To Stop Slugs Eating Strawberries

It’s natural to want to stop slugs from eating those beautiful strawberries.

After all, you’ve spent all season watering them, feeding them and taking care of them, just to enjoy the delicious fruit that they’ll give at the end of the season. 

You wouldn’t want slugs from eating away the bigger share of your harvest.

One of the most effective techniques to stop slugs is to introduce predators in the garden.

Predators

Toads, lizards, snakes, birds, beetles, newts, ducks, salamanders, porcupines, millipedes and racoons will quickly eat away the slugs and eliminate them from your strawberry patch.

Encourage the predators that most suit your gardening layout and the slug population will die down.

Nematodes are also often applied to the soil to stop slugs.

Once slugs feed on nematodes, they will act as a parasite inside them, swelling up the body from within, stopping them from feeding within just a few days and killing them within a week.

Conclusion

How To Keep Slugs From Strawberries

There are a range of methods to keep slugs from eating away your strawberry harvest.

Choose one or a combination of techniques that suits your garden most and salvage what remains of your harvest.

Even if you can’t enjoy too many strawberries this season, now you know what needs to be done to keep the entire harvest to yourself next season.

About the author

Greg Volente

Greg Volente holds a Naturalist Certificate from the Morton Arboretum, worked for The Nature Conservancy leading environmental education programs and doing natural areas restoration, and worked in the soil science research & testing lab at Michigan State University. Besides gardening, he's an avid wildflower enthusiast, and loves botanizing, hiking, and backpacking.