Snails and Slugs

Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Class Gastropoda


Slugs are soft-bodied animals. Depending on the species, adults can be 25 to 100 mm long. Snails are also soft-bodied animals. Snails have shells and can withdraw inside them. In harsh conditions, they can seal the shell and stay alive inside for several years.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Slugs and snails hide in damp places during the day. They stay under logs and stones or under ground cover. They also hide under planters and low decks. At night they come out to eat. They make a slimy trail as they move around. Both slugs and snails eat leaves of plants. Since snails have shells, they need calcium in their diet. If limestone is not plentiful, they will sometimes feed on painted surfaces.


Both slugs and snails lay eggs in the spring and summer. They put the eggs in damp, protected places. Snails cover their eggs with soil. The eggs hatch in a few days. The immature animals develop into adults in a few months. Both snails and slugs can live for several years.

Signs of Snail or Slug Infestation

Homeowners often do not see the slugs or snails but instead find their slimy trails. These trails remain visible for several days. Their feeding damage to plants also is an indicator of their presence.

More Information

Slugs and snails are a nuisance when they come indoors. Outdoors they can cause considerable damage to plants in gardens and flowerbeds. There are several species in the United States.

Preventing slugs or snails begins with eliminating their hiding places. Move firewood piles away from the house and store firewood off of the ground. Put planters and flower pots onto racks or stands. Remove lumber and stones that can provide a damp hiding place.

Make sure exterior doors close properly. Replace missing weather stripping or door sweeps. It may be necessary to use a dehumidifier in a damp basement.

Secure crawl space doors to keep slugs and snails out. Make sure crawl space vents are open to allow circulation and reduce dampness.

The next step involves an inspection. The slime trails may lead to the slug or snail hiding places. It may be necessary to go out at night to see where they are coming from. Some people prefer to use tongs to pick them up rather than using their hands.

Call the local pest management professional to help control these pests.