Written by Terry Smith

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Best slug pellets [UK]: Top slug and snail killer in the UK reviewed with organic alternatives

This article was last updated on October 28th, 2021 at 12:14 am

Slugs and snails can be helpful little creatures. They will happily munch away on dead leaves and other garden debris, and can actually help to keep your soil healthy through their nitrogen rich faeces.

The problem with them is that they also like to chew their way through your flowers, plants, and crops, and some slugs even feast on bulbs under the soil, completely out of view. Much more serious than that, although admittedly a rarer occurrence, is the spread of disease from rats to snails and then onto humans, but more about that in a little bit.

If I see the odd snail or slug in my garden, I don’t immediately seek to kill the little fellah, but I do keep a watchful eye out from then on. Slugs can multiply in numbers quite rapidly, and before you know it you can have an infestation.

Now, there are few ways that you can prevent slugs infesting your garden, and we’ll go into that in this article, but one of the simplest, and most effective, means of getting rid of slugs is to use slug pellets.

What are slug pellets? How do they work? What other ways can I protect my garden from slugs?

These questions, and more, will all be answered in this article, and we will also provide you with the information you need on the best slug pellets in the UK, so you can save yourself a lot of time searching through the endless swamp of products out there.

So, now its time to take a look at the top-selling slug pellets on the market. We’ll give you our honest opinions on these products, and won’t shy away from telling you the negative aspects either.

Our top picks for the best slug pellets are:

Best organic snail killer: Doff slug and snail killer

Best slug pellet for vegetables: Neudorff Organic slug killer

Alternative safer slug pellets: Rentokil PSS120

Best slug killer for lawns: Slugkil pellets

What are slug pellets and how do they work effectively?

Slug pellets contain a number of chemicals, but the main ones that do the job are Metaldehyde (very toxic and used less these days) and iron phosphate. Out of these, iron phosphate is the chemical most commonly found in commercial products, and is even found in some ‘organic’ slug pellets.

They might not be the most intelligent of creatures, but slugs won’t just slither over and start eating poison, so these pellets also contain ingredients that attract the slugs. In fact, these attractants can make the slugs believe they’re getting a tasty meal as they eat themselves to their demise.

The poisons in the pellets prevent the slugs from being able to eat, and they essentially starve to death over the space of a few days. Not the nicest thought in the world, but that’s the reality of it, and after you’ve seen your prize tomatoes desecrated by these slimy vandals, you might not mind too much.

For more information on how to use these pellets, here’s a very short video on the subject. It is literally about a minute long, so you’ve no excuse not to watch it-

Are there any problems or dangers when using slug pellets?

To this, I have to answer yes. Slug pellets contain poisons that can be harmful to animals and humans, so you have to treat them with respect and be very careful when using them.

They also have a few other drawbacks. For example, because they contain chemicals that make them enticing to slugs, you might find that you get more slugs coming into your garden than before.

But, as long as they eat the poison and die it’ll be ok right? Well, not always. After the slugs ingest the poison, they then crawl off somewhere quiet to live out their last moments. Then the scent of their dead body attracts other slugs and snails, so you have to make sure that you clear those dead slugs away afterwards.

Another thing you have to do after using slug pellets, is to thoroughly wash the area, especially if you have kids or pets that play there. Any vegetables that you are growing have to be carefully washed before you can even think of eaten them too.

Finally, if you are a nature lover, then you are probably already aware that hedgehog numbers are at an all time low. Slugs are part of hedgehogs’ diets, and it is possible that they will eat the poisoned slugs and this will be harmful. One way to avoid this is just to have the pellets in your containers raised off the ground.

After using these pellets, you might find that you get mould spores all over the ground. This is completely normal and natural, and is just the remnants of the pellets being broken down, even if it doesn’t look great.

There is plenty of more info out there on the various chemicals used in slug pellets and the potential dangers of them, but I think this young lad does a decent job of explaining things-

Are slugs harmful to humans?

Slugs can be harmful to humans through the spread of diseases. One of the most dangerous is rat lungworm, which can cause horrendous problems in humans, including brain damage.

You see, these worms don’t head for the lungs in humans like they do in rats. Instead, they travel up to the brain and can even burrow in there. The result is increased pressure in spinal column fluid and this causes a really bad fever.

This disease is spread to humans through infected snails leaving their trails on your crops, and then those crops being ingested. This is why it is extremely important to always thoroughly wash your vegetables before eating them, whether you see slugs around or not.

As well as rat lungworm, there are other parasites that can be spread from animals to humans via slugs and snails, so you can see why there are so many products available that are designed to get rid of them.

Here’s an animated and informative clip from YouTube that explains the rat lungworm-snail connection-

Alternatives to slug pellets and ways to get rid of slugs from your garden

Slug pellets might be the most effective way of killing these slithering invaders, but they are not the only form of defence against them. Here we’ll talk about a few that might help you in your struggle to keep them away from your plants.

Use beer as a trap

It may be hard to believe, but as well as the smell of rotting animal flesh, slugs are also quite partial to the smell of beer. This lust for lager can be used against them, in the form of a beer trap. This is a particularly cheap method if you’re into home brew beer!

Beer traps can be bought pre-made, but it is so simple to make your own. All you have to do is bury a small container in close proximity to the plants you want to protect, and then fill it at least half full with some cheap beer. The slugs will be attracted by the smell, fall in, and won’t be able to get out. Simple but effective. Just check this tweet out-

 

Grow plants that slugs don’t like

Slugs have a keen sense of smell, but some scents really put them off. Plants like rosemary, lavender, anise, and wormwood, are all good for repelling slugs and snails, but there are a lot more. Some keep slugs away by their smell, some have foliage that is uncomfortable to slither on, and some even have leaves that are toxic to slugs. So, do your homework and figure out a few natural defences.

Make the area around your plants difficult or uncomfortable for them to crawl around on

Slugs aren’t exactly the fastest things alive, and this makes it easy to create barriers that they won’t like to travel through. Using oil or some kind of lubricant on the outside of your flower pots and containers can prevent the slugs from climbing up for a nibble on your plants.

Another thing they don’t like is sharp or overly rough surfaces. Common techniques include using coarse sand or broken egg shells, but there are plenty of other natural leaves and such that slugs don’t like to traverse. This person just used a piece of old skirting, but I would have made the surface a bit rougher, personally-

Entice hedgehogs into your garden

Hedgehogs are a natural predator of slugs and will happily chomp on them for you, but first you need to get the hedgehogs to come visit. Creating areas in your garden that can act as shelter for our spiky little friends, leaving some food and water, and buying a little hedgehog house, are all good ways to have your own prickly security guard patrolling your garden. A hedgehog house is a great start!

We actually have articles about hedgehogs, how to care for them, and how to welcome them into your garden. These articles are full of helpful information, so please give them 10 minutes of your time.

Use copper or salt

Slugs hate copper as it gives them an electric shock when they crawl over it, so laying down a boundary of copper tape can work well. The good thing about copper tape is that it is adhesive and versatile, so you can apply it pretty much anywhere you like.

Salt will kill slugs, and it is tempting just to sprinkle the stuff everywhere. However, plants can be damaged by excessive salt, so you have to be careful where you use it, and how much you are using.

Copper really bothers slugs and snails

Make your garden less of a haven for them

As everyone knows, slugs aren’t fast movers, and this leaves them vulnerable to predators. Because of this, they always look for shelter under garden debris. This could be natural debris like a dead branch that has fallen of a tree, or it could be something you left out there such as paving stones. Getting rid of these things reduces the amount of shelter and can help reduce the number of slugs in your garden.

1. Doff DOFFAG800DOF Slug & Snail Killer 800g

These Doff slug pellets are some of the best selling on Amazon at the moment, probably due to the relatively low price for an 800g tub.

These bright blue pellets really stand out, so there’s no way that you’re going to forget where you placed them around your plants. The thing is, I also think that the colour will be attractive to young kids and pets too, and these are not safe for either, so please keep that in mind.

I found these pellets to be highly effective in dry weather, but just after some rain, and within days I could tell that the number of slugs had dropped. After a week, there was a significant reduction in slug numbers, which is normal with this kind of pellet: they don’t work instantly.

In fact, after getting a bit of a soaking, these Doff slug pellets did what most of these products do, and started to be covered in mould as they broke down. I don’t know if this put the slugs off eating them, or if it was just a coincidence, but I didn’t find as many dead slugs around this time as I had before.

As mentioned, this is a fairly large container for the price, but the opening where the pellets come out is also quite large and you have to be careful not to empty half of the tub in one tilt of the wrist. Well, heavy handed people like me do, anyway.

There seems to be some misunderstanding of what ‘pet safe’ means too. These pellets are chemical poison and are definitely not safe for pets and wildlife in large doses. However, they won’t harm your plants.

So, from what I experienced these Doff slug pellets work really well under the right conditions, and as long as you are careful when pouring them out, you shouldn’t run into trouble. If you see mould, don’t panic, it’s just part of the process.

Pros:

  • Low cost for a large container
  • Works very well under the right conditions
  • Wont harm your plants or soil

Cons:

  • Large opening makes it hard to control how much you pour

This 800g box of Neudorff sluggo slug and snail killer costs around three times that of Doff product we reviewed above, but then again, it is classed as organic and that always seems to drive the price up on anything these days.

Apart from the organic part, these pellets work in much the same way as the non-organic ones. They contain ingredients that attract the slugs, and others that prevent them from eating until the slugs are no more.

The main active chemical in these Neudorff slug pellets is ferric phosphate, which isn’t as harmful to humans and animals as some other commonly used poisons found in insecticides, but it still isn’t 100% harmless and you should wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after handling the pellets, and clean any vegetables before eating them.

I found this product to be mostly effective, although there were a couple of plants that I surrounded with the product that were still attacked by slugs, but that could have been the way I placed them on that particular plant, the time of day, or the weather conditions.

Neudorff claims that slugs actually prefer these pellets when wet and that rainy weather won’t affect them, but again, I saw that they started breaking down after getting soaked and then we got the inevitable mould appearing.

Where they were effective, the pellets had to be replaced quite often and this could get expensive if you have a large area to treat. However, overall, I would say this is an effective product that delivers on what it promises.

Pros:

  • Effective slug killer over time
  • Easy to pour from container
  • Safe to use on vegetables

Cons:

  • Had to be replaced quite often

Neudorff have put this little video together to show how effective their organic product is-

3. Rentokil PSS120 Slug and Snail Killer Pellets

The name Rentokil is synonymous with pest control in the UK, but are their PSS120 slug and snail killer pellets any good?

Like Neudorff, Rentokil have chosen to do away with the highly toxic metaldehyde in favour of ferric phosphate as it is comparatively safer to use. Again though, don’t mistake this as being completely pet and child safe, as it can still cause problems if ingested.

Whenever you get a well-known name attached to product, it drives the price up, and that is the case here too. For roughly double the price of the Doff product, you get around half the number of pellets.

How effective are they? I’d say these Rentokil pellets are a little hit and miss to be honest. In some areas, they worked really well, but in others the plants were still attacked.

On the positive side, the tub that the pellets come in makes them easy to spread around evenly and is easy to grip in one hand. It also seals quite safely, but you should never leave products like this in a place where kids and pets can get a hold of it anyway.

All things considered, I’d have to say that for the higher price, and with having that famous name attached, I expected these pellets to be more than what they are. They do work, don’t get me wrong, just not as well as I’d hoped.

Pros:

  • Come in a practical container
  • Will break down safely into your soil
  • Brightly coloured and easy to see

Cons:

  • Not as effective as I’d hoped for the price

4. PROTECT GARDEN Effective Control 86600604 Slug Killer Pellets 700G

Protect Garden’s slug pellets are yet another product that is deemed to be safe to use on your vegetables, due to the absence of metaldehyde, and the fact it breaks down into iron phosphate after a while, which is good for the soil in the right amounts.

The container that these pellets came in was actually one of the better ones that we tested, and it would be extremely hard for pets or small children to open it. It also pours well and gives you a decent amount of control over how may pellets you are dispersing in an area.

I’d say this product was about as effective as both the Doff and Neudorff slug pellets. It served its purpose really well in dry weather, but the rain reduced the effectiveness it seemed.

What confused me about this product, is that it is advertised as being metaldehyde free, but when you look on the packaging it says that there is 1.5% metaldehyde used as bait, and then states, multiple times, that there are small particles of the same chemical. This is confusing to say the least.

The price of Protect garden’s slug killer pellets is competitive, and you can get a 700g container for less than eight quid at the time of writing this article. This puts it around the same price as the Doff pellets, which isn’t bad at all.

Pros:

  • Competitively priced
  • Secure container to stop small kids getting into it
  • Worked well in dry weather

Cons:

  • There is confusion about the ingredients

It’s important not to just dump a ton of pellets in one area, and knowing how to properly apply slug pellets can really make a difference. So, if you have time, watch little clips like the following one to find out more-

Although they cost a little more than some of the other products featured here, Slugkil’s slug pellets did also impress me a little more, in some areas at least.

The main thing that I noticed is that they didn’t instantly start breaking down into mould after a splash of rain. Don’t get me wrong, they will still break down that way as they are made of the same ingredients as most other pellets, but it didn’t happen as quickly with these.

I liked that there were clear instructions on the container about the best times to use these pellets, as it will affect how well they work, and it isn’t really common knowledge. This usually leads to people sprinkling the pellets before a rainstorm and then complaining that they were ineffective.

The opening on the container isn’t quite as good though, and just like with the Doff pellets, you have to be careful not to empty too many in one place. There is no child safety lid either, so you’ll have to be careful where you store the container.

I didn’t see any large trails from the slugs after they had ingested these pellets, which can sometimes happen, so I think this would be a good product for people’s lawns and also on slate. Don’t use them on sand stone or decking though.

Overall, I think these are some of the best pellets we tested. They were effective at keeping slugs away, and didn’t break down as quickly as some of the others. You do have to pay a little more for them, but they are still good value.

Pros:

  • Didn’t break down as quickly as some other pellets when wet
  • Instructions on container are very clear and helpful
  • Effective at keeping slugs at bay

Cons:

  • Priced slightly higher than some of the competition

Well, that’s the end of this article I’m afraid, but I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job of informing you about slug pellets, their uses, and the best options available to you.

Some things to remember are that you have to give the pellets time to work, especially organic ones which can take up to a week. You should also apply the pellets just after rain but when you think there will be a following dry spell. Following these two main points will make your pellets much more effective.


About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence.

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