Copper to repel snails

landlady(USDA 8 or 9)June 21, 2012

If using copper to repel snails (and does it work at all?), does the copper have to be kept pristine and shiny? I have rather a lot of thin sheet copper, but I'm suspecting it would all have to be polished to do the job it's purported to do...

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Copper, as with so many metals, is currently valuable.

Sell it. (do I sound like ken_adrian, teehee;-?)

I very much remember visiting a big hosta/shade garden north of us a few years ago, where my wife and I stopped at the entrance and watched a big slug crawl right across a big copper strip around a pot with a big hosta in it.

The rest of the copper protected garden looked like swiss cheese.

Perhaps some applications of this in some circumstances work, but it surely was NOT working there, and though I have a big spool of wide copper strips (for electrical bonding and lightning re-direction purposes), I'm not going to squander it to attempt to deter slugs.

I prefer to kill the buggars.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:10PM
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paula_b_gardener 5b_ON(5b)

I have used the following product and have found it to be effective:,51555,51241

Maybe just lucky? I don't know.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:33PM
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Colleen very informative on Hallson's Forum..

Here is a link that might be useful: read this on hallson forum

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:45PM
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landlady(USDA 8 or 9)

Hmmmm....well, what I have was bought many years ago from the local salvage yard and with snail repelling in mind. It's beyond actually being valuable, but it still takes a certain amount of messing about with to get into place since it's all in flatish thin pieces about 4" X 12". I certainly don't want to rely on it if it's not effective, so I guess I'll just add it to the list of possibly vaguely helpful deterrents and try to stay up late enough for it to get dark so I can go out and actually catch and smash the beasts.

What I suspect is that copper works when it is new and very shiny and the snail's mucous reacts with the copper. Mine is old and very tarnished and is probably analogous to a battery that has lost its charge.

Oh well....

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:52PM
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Well, I know that cuprous oxide was part of bottom paint on seagoing vessels for a long time. I think it is mostly done away with now.

The copper bottom paint was very effective against barnacles, which are sort of the slimeys for the ocean. I was looking for some bottom paint to lay a coating of it on the bottom of my containers, up the sides a little bit, since the slugs like to hide beneath the pots, and then they would climb up at night etc etc.

But I could not find any. I did find a pint of copper paint that was made by Rustoleum, for sale at Pretty expensive. Don't know if it would work applied as I intended for bottom paint or not. But, it is a moot question now, as I have a lot of BugGeta which has the iron sulphate component in it. Between it and the Sluggo Plus when I have it, it keeps the slugs under control until we get a week of rain like we had about a week ago. Now it is time to reapply to the areas around the flower pots, and to soak the soil in the containers with the ammonia. Not too many worms to worry about in the containers since it is all new from MiracleGro. :)

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 12:19AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

aw hillbilly.. throw it on the driveway.. maybe the slugs will crawl out there and stand around mocking you .. lol .. but then again.. at least you can run them over with the car ..

IMHO .. but for one or two peeps who claim success.. this day dream has been around forever.. with most peeps claiming it doesnt work

i dont have time to see if the hallson link supports my conclusion ... can anyone tell me???

but.. in this case.. you have it .. so why not try it ...

i would dissuade you from spending money to try it ...


    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 8:34AM
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I'll recap what I said on the Hallson board. Several years back, after miserable failures with both Sluggo and beer traps, I decided to put copper to the test. I cut a three inch high strip of copper foil, made it into a ring, and put a slug in the center of it. Over a period of hours, I observed the slug making several attempts to climb out of the copper ring. He would get about two thirds of the way up, then head back down. Eventually he gave up. This was enough to convince me to give it a shot, and I made three inch high rings for my most vulnerable hosta- you know, the ones with thin substance and lots of delicious looking white edges. Well, every hosta in my garden with a copper ring will go undamaged by slugs until the frost. True story Ken, swear on my life. I'm a real, live person, and this has been my experience, with the slugs in MY particular garden, who evidently don't like Sluggo or beer. (Sluggo experiment coming next, BTW)

BUT, there are a couple important caveats when using copper-

1) You have to make sure you don't trap any slug eggs, baby slugs, or hiding slugs on the inside when you put up the barrier.

2) If you have hostaleaves that touch the ground, or overlap neighboring plants, that is a way for slugs to bypass the copper. Additionally, make sure they cannot crawl under the barrier, which it probably the hardest part. Any kind of garden debris that happens to fall against the copper barrier becomes a bridge over it.

3) beware of slugs rapelling down from the trees on their mucus - see attached pictorial evidence

4) beware the rogue slug who is bigger, badder, and hungrier than all the rest- they might be willing to tough it out and crawl over- but this is very rare, in my garden. In fact they are probably the rapellers.

As to the question of whether old copper works- it does. In fact, I prefer it not to be shiny so that it blends in better. I do clean the rings in the Spring with vinegar and try to make sure they stay free of mud buildup, etc, once they are in the garden.

In summation, it's not perfect, it's not the easiest or cheapest thing to set up, but it works damn good, and it works while I'm sleeping. Of course it doesn't KILL them, which is important also to keep the numbers in check- that's where the night hunts come in. If I had more money, I'd put as many of the hosta in copper barriers as I could.

Here is my documented experiment- note that he is not shooting sparks from his body when he touches the copper

And suspended slug from high branch

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 1:46PM
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That is as clear a picture of a slug rappelling as I'd ever hope to see!......hope you do not mind that I copy the picture.

Your slugs are monsters in size. The ones I see are small and almost blackish tan.

Thanks for your input, BTW.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 4:23PM
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paula_b_gardener 5b_ON(5b)

That is one big slug! yuck.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 10:29AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i believe you coll ...

BTW.. i have seen copper in rolls.. 2 or 3 inches wide.. in the roofing aisles of places that sell roofing ... and the price was exorbitant.. for me ...

if it works.. it works ... so be it ...


    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 10:38AM
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Copper wire will keep slugs out of hosta beds. I had some bare grounding wire left over from an upgrading of my electrical service. I unraveled it and placed a barrier around some beds. It doesn't matter if it gets tarnished as the very small current is what repels the slugs. If the wire is covered over then this defeats the purpose.

It also requires flattening out once or twice a year to prevent slugs cawling under. All in all it is not very labor intensive. I have never seen monster slugs like coll has, so I have no idea what may stop them, although being trapped in a copper "pail" might not be indicative of whether the slug would avoid copper...if it had a choice.

My biggest problem with it was catching it in my lawnmower blades and having it whip around. Believe me I will not let that happen again. It was a dangerous situation.

It works well for me and the wire was "free", or at least paid for and sitting around in my shed. Its not 100%, but then what is?


    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 12:05PM
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