The most popular method of slug and snail control used in the garden is slug pellets. The pellets are manufactured from cereal and yeast that lures the slugs and snails to them and they contain a poison that kills the slugs and snails after they have consumed the pellets.
There are three main types of poison used in slug pellets:
Metaldehyde – to be BANNED from spring 2020. A ban on the outdoor use of metaldehyde, a pesticide used to control slugs in a range of
crops and in gardens, is to be introduced across Great Britain from Spring 2020, the Environment Secretary announced today (19 December).
The decision to prohibit the use of metaldehyde, except in permanent greenhouses, follows advice from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP)
and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that metaldehyde poses an unacceptable risk to wildlife. Metaldehyde causes the slug or snail to swell up
eventually leading to death. It damages the mucus cells resulting in the production of masses of slime which causes dehydration of the slug or snail.
The slug/snail isn’t always killed outright but becomes immobilised and is prevented from returning to the safety of its daytime shelter.
Metaldehyde doesn’t have to be ingested to be effective it can also kill slugs/snails through contact.
Methiocarb – (BANNED from late 2014) this is about ten times more poisonous than metaldehyde. It poses a greater risk to wildlife.
It takes longer to break down which makes it a more persistent hazard. It can also kill other insects including slug eating beetles.
It is also damaging to earthworms.
The Soil Association will not certify any pest and disease control products. The use of ferric phosphate would only be permitted by the Soil Association on a highly restricted basis, following a special application by an organic producer.
Although there aren’t any slug pellets that can be used in the organic garden it doesn’t mean that the garden will be completely overrun with slugs and snails, reducing all our plants to slimy stumps. Slug pellets aren’t very effective at controlling slugs. They will only kill around 10% of the slug and snail population in the average garden.
Organic garden management relies on prevention always being better than a cure. In the organic garden we use a system known as Integrated Pest Management Control sometimes referred to as IPM. IPM systems use a wide variety of controls to keep on top of pests and diseases. They depend upon the gardener taking steps to build up food chains within the garden that will attract suitable pest predators into the area.