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Garden Myth: You Can Kill Slugs With Cornmeal

Slugs just love cornmeal: it makes them fat and happy!

Here’s a garden myth that just keeps circulating: that you can kill slugs by feeding them cornmeal. The idea is to pour a few spoonfuls of cornmeal into a jar, then turn it on its side before putting it out for the night. (The jar is to keep rain and dew out of the cornmeal.)

According to the legend, if you put out dry cornmeal, slugs will eat it and it will expand in their stomach until they die. Some versions say they’ll explode! (If only this were true: I’d love to hear the pop pop of slugs exploding.)

Like many garden myths, there does seem to a be a hint of logic behind the legend. After all, doesn’t corn meal expand when you add water? But then, just about everything dry will expand when you add water. But if you eat a cup or two of dry cornmeal (I’ll let you try that: it really isn’t my cup of tea!), then drink a cup or two of water, your stomach won’t explode. You’ll just digest it, period. And so will slugs.

In fact, cornmeal (dry) is often used to feed slugs and snails in laboratories. Surely scientist wouldn’t be feeding them something that causes gastric distress of any kind!

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Feed your slugs with cornmeal: they’ll love you for it! Source: Montage:

Instead of killing the slugs, you’ll therefore be making them fat and happy!

If you really want to get rid of slugs in your garden, read this: Slug Treatments That Really Work.

What About Ants?

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No, ants don’t explode when you feed them cornmeal! Source: Montage:

You’ll hear the same thing said about ants: that if you put out cornmeal, they’ll eat it and die and/or explode. Yet, if you do this, you’re just feeding the ants, as they love cornmeal too. Read Garden Myth: Cornmeal Makes Ants Explode for more about this other garden myth.


Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

2 comments on “Garden Myth: You Can Kill Slugs With Cornmeal

  1. so what if you make a cornmeal slurry with a lot of salt?

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