Pests in our homes are gross but seeing slimy creatures crawling along bathroom walls or slug trails is enough to cause concern. Slugs, which are often described as snails without a shell, are often found in gardens or farms. They're attracted to food and moisture and love to eat vegetables and flowers. Since slugs and snails like damp conditions, some people might find themselves with a slug infestation in and around bathrooms, including the shower, shower floor or toilet.
If you ever wondered why slugs are in your bathroom and how to get rid of them, here's a quick primer on what they are, what attracts bathroom slugs, where you might find them around your house and how to prevent slugs or get rid of them at the first sight of slime trails.
The yellow cellar slug, sometimes called a cellar slug or tawny garden slug, is yellow-brown or green-yellow in color. They're part of the Gastropod family, which consists of slugs and snails. They're pests and can do a fair amount of damage outdoors, especially in gardens. Slugs like to eat decaying plants, including plant leaves or materials.
Slugs and snails are food-driven and like dark damp refuges. They don't need larger gaps to find their way inside a house. Ideal entry points are as simple as a small hole in a wall or crawl space.
If you see evidence of a slug in your bathroom, whether it's hiding by a tub drain or you see slime along a bath or shower, you'll want to look for possible leaky boundaries or other possible entry points. Do you have pet food lingering that will attract slugs? Slugs have been found eating leftovers. Since slugs also eat mold (or, as the British like to say "eats mould"), like those dark spaces in your house where there's warmth and chill out where algae are growing, you'll want to look for evidence in those areas.
Look for a possible entry point in your house, look for a hole near a shower wall or near drain lines. If you see a snail or slug's tell-tale sign of their slime line underneath a drain pipe or near a shower, which often looks like a thread runs along the bathroom floor, either during the night or in the morning, you may have to figure out how to create a bait to trap them.
Most often, a snail or slug will find its way to a bathroom during the night since that has the conditions it loves best: dark and damp. Also, there are holes via drain lines. That's not to say they can't make it into other rooms in your house. As long as there are easy-to-access holes to get into a house and access to food, especially in the form of decaying plants or pet food, they don't need to make their entry through a bathroom.
If they originally posted their flag in a bathroom, it'll be that much easier for them to slide their way into other rooms in the house so it's best to consider ways to get rid of slugs when you first notice them.
The best way to not attract slugs into your house in the first place is to cut off any entry points and not have food available for them to eat. If you notice any holes along windows or flooring, seal them with silicone sealant. You may have slugs feasting on your plants outdoors or on a patio, so line the planters and your entryways with copper tape as a deterrent.
If slugs or snails do make it indoors, some have resorted to pellets and other attempts to get rid of them.
Slug pellets or slug bait are small cylindrical "bullets" that contain metaldehyde, a substance that's poisonous to slugs. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services about the use of using slug pellets to eradicate slugs, "metaldehyde works by disrupting the mucus production ability of snails and slugs. This reduces their digestion and mobility and makes them susceptible to dehydration. Snails and slugs that have eaten metaldehyde often seek hiding places, become inactive and begin to die within days."
It's important to note these pellets contain poison and the United Kingdom banned their sale as of April 1, 2022, because they pose an unnecessary risk to birds, dogs and mammals. While they're still permitted in the United States, it's important to consider where they're placed so an animal doesn't mistake it for pet food or a child doesn't accidentally consume it by crawling along the floor.
Slugs, in general, don't pose a health risk. But slugs and snails do serve as a host for some parasites during the larval stage. You really don't want them in your home if you can help it.
If you don't want to go the pellets route, some people opt for other methods to show these slimy nuisances they're not welcome. They may also trap or kill them and dispose of their squishy bodies.
According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), iron phosphate is a compound that combines phosphorous and oxygen with iron and can kill slugs and snails when eaten. Another product NPIC recommends that's non-poisonous to humans is products that contain "food grade" diatomaceous earth. "Diatomaceous earth causes insects to dry out and die by absorbing the oils and fats from the cuticle of the insect's exoskeleton," according to NPIC. "Its sharp edges are abrasive, speeding up the process. It remains effective as long as it's kept dry and undisturbed."
As mentioned earlier, the copper tape can fend off slugs. Other easy, affordable and do-it-yourself approaches are placing eggshells around the perimeter of where slugs might enter. Or, placing beer in a bowl since they're attracted to the yeasty odors found in beer. You can also add a bowl that holds standing water so they can slide their slimy bodies into the water trap and drown.
Slugs also avoid salt because salt crystals bind moisture. Salt draws water from slugs and dehydrates them. You can always try an experiment and sprinkle salt in half of an area and not the other area. Then you can see if you notice the telltale signs of slugs in the area you didn't sprinkle.
Any pests are not welcome inside your apartment and slugs are no exception. We want our bathrooms as a place of calm and respite and our homes clean and dust-free and without unwelcome guests. Finding how slugs are getting in is one way to not put out the welcome mat. But if they do find their way indoors, it's comforting to know there are several ways to stop them in their slimy tracks.