The main aim of slugrings is to provide a really effective solution that is completely safe to all other wildlife and plants. Slugrings don't actually damage the slugs and snails, they just create a very bad taste when their slime reacts with the copper. It is so unpleasant for the mollusc it simply turns them away.
This means that when using slugrings you will still have slugs and snails in your garden for other wildlife to feast upon, and attracting predators is a great way to help reduce the numbers naturally. But what animals actually eat slugs and snails? Most people are aware that birds will eat them, and many will have heard that hedgehogs enjoy them too... but are there any other predators you can attract to help?
All of the UKs native frogs, toads and newts will eat slugs and snails. Basically if they can fit it in their mouth they will eat it! More mature frogs and toads have bigger mouths and will therefore eat your bigger slugs and snails. It's worth keeping an eye out when mowing long grass or digging to avoid injuring any that you have in the garden. If you have space a pond is a great way to attract them, if you are short of space even an old bucket or sink will work. Just ensure you include aeration plants and access in and out of the water, burying it is a great option!
Slow worms and common lizards eat slugs, leaving areas of the garden with piles of leaves and woody matter will help attract them. We rebuilt our compost area and found 5 slow worms underneath! We were careful not to scare them too much and they moved right back in after the upgrade :)
Not all birds will eat slugs and snails, but most of the slightly larger ones will. Thrushes, blackbirds, robins, starlings, gulls, jays, magpies, seagulls and owls are all known to eat slugs and snails. Attracting birds is quite easy, feed them and they will come! Add a birdbath, nesting box and plenty of undisturbed trees or shrubs and you should see plenty of avian predators in your garden. They also eat other garden pests like leatherjackets, a win all round!
Ground beetles and rove beetles both include slugs and slug eggs in their diet. There are about 350 species of ground beetle and 100 species of rove beetle. They will vary in size from 2-30mm in size and are common garden predators. Particularly useful for eating those tiny slug hatchlings that can consume a plant in hours! Most active from March to October they can be coaxed into your garden in areas of uncut grass or wildflowers.
Hedgehogs, shrews, mice, moles, squirrels and even foxes include slugs and snails in their diets. Once again leaving small areas of the garden with longer grass, undisturbed hedges or banks and wood piles will all attract these vertebrate predators!
One of the smallest and most deadly predators to slugs are nematodes or eelworms. They occur naturally in our soils and are parasitic creatures that enter the slugs bodies and infect them with bacteria that causes the slug to decompose from within! Nematodes are now bred to be used as a slug control and are a great combination with slugrings for any organic gardener.
Slug control in your garden does not have a single quick fix, and in fact slugs are an essential part of your garden ecosystem as they are one of the garden finest composters. It is best looked at as a fine balance, where natural predators keep numbers in check, and you can use slugrings to keep them away from individual plants!
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