Organic slug pellets

This is the time of year when gardeners start seeing slug and snail damage on their Hostas and other precious plants and quickly resort to slug pellets!  Unfortunately there is evidence to suggest that the usual metaldehyde formulations can harm hedgehogs and song thrushes.  This happens when they eat the still living slugs or snails that have ingested the bait, but not yet died.

In recent years a much more wildlife friendly ‘organic’ pellet has become widely available and I have been trying it out.  It is made with Ferric phosphate which is not only harmless to hedgehogs and birds, but also harmless to us when used in the vegetable plot (certified for organic use).  Instead of causing the slug to dessicate by shedding its protective mucous (leaving nasty slimey bodies everywhere) it causes the slug to retreat underground to die out of sight where it then rots naturally.

I have found the organic pellets do work well if used on mild evenings when slugs and snails are active as the pellets are eaten more quickly and before they can decay.  It is best to use them sparingly and only around particularly vulnerable plants so birds and hedgehogs are still able to find enough to eat.

Better still is to go out in the garden at night with a torch and a large plastic bag – it is then very easy to see and pick off the big garden snails!  They can be ‘set free’ the next day in a roadside hedge or wood edge perhaps – somewhere well away from gardens and farmers’ crops!


Leave a comment


  1. Michael Watson

     /  March 31, 2012

    What are the slug pellets called and where can we get them?

    • Thanks for the question Michael. I think most larger outlets with garden products stock these now – Scollays on the Ridge is where I bought my last lot – £5.60 for 750g. Their’s was called Advanced Slug Killer certfied for organic use, but there are various brand names – just look for ‘organic’ on the container which looks similar in shape and size to other types of slug pellets. Then if you check the small print it should say it contains Ferric Phosphate. Hope this helps. Ralph

  2. Hi Ralph I have read your article, I would like you to know about my invention to keep slugs away from the garden, it is safe for children, pets, birds and environment. It is called the Slugbell and you can use both Organic or Normal Metaldehyde pellets and that the small amount of pellets needed will last up to three months!!! as they don’t dissolve in the soil and are pet i.e. Cat, dog and wildlife safe and brilliant for pet owners. I will try anything to keep my garden looking how it should whilst protecting natures cycle. Have a look at my website

    • Our initial reaction is that this device looks interesting as you use less pellets and they last longer, but can only be fully wildlife friendly if filled with organic slug pellets. This is because it appears that half dead slugs contaminated with metaldehyde can still be picked up by hedgehogs and thrushes as they move away from the bell again! Ralph

  3. Michael Watson

     /  April 4, 2012

    Thanks,will definitely give these pellets a try.

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