Garden Myths Gardening Mollusks

Can Coca-Cola Kill Slugs?

In the desperate need to prove Coca-Cola has some real use in the garden, some people suggest that you can leave a bowl of the beverage out overnight so it will attract slugs. According to this belief, they are attracted to the sugary smell of the drink, then the acid will kill them when the drink it. Or they simply fall in trying to reach the delicious nectar. 

However, try it yourself and see: you’ll discover no slug ever gets poisoned nor falls into the bowl to drown. Apparently, slugs don’t like Coca-Cola, possibly because it’s so very acid (the pH of freshly opened Coca Cola is about 2.5: extremely acid). 

Beer does a better job of trapping slugs (see Attracting Slugs With Beer: Myth or Reality?), but even beer is a very poor slug control method. In fact, it tends to increase the local slug population.

So, the best way to use Coca-Cola as a slug deterrent is to drink it to give yourself extra energy before you go out slug hunting.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. 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 is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden 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 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

3 comments on “Can Coca-Cola Kill Slugs?

  1. I have started using organic slug pellets. I dont like using them, but they say “autorisied in organic gardeining” on the box. I dont have a huge problem any more since I let the hens loose last wiinter and i think they ate all the slug and snail eggs (i turned over all the pavings and bits of wood for them). But it is still so sad to lose baby seedlings I’ve spent so much time on getting to the planting out stage.

    • Yes, hens will clean up slug eggs and even slugs themselves, although you wouldn’t want them loose in the garden in early summer, as they make a mess of seedlings too.

  2. Yes, that one sounds pretty far fetched. I remember that beer seemed to attract them in the Santa Clara Valley, but not kill them, which is fine for those who go out in the morning to collect them and . . . . ‘relocate’ them. Those who do that here find a party of harmless banana slugs, which no one bothers to . . . ‘relocate’.

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