Is it Safe to use slug pellets?
Slug pellets only harm slugs - say pellet manufacturers
who are getting together in a bid to address the misconception
in the market-place that using slug pellets is a cause for
Pellet manufacturers pbi Home &
Garden (producers of Bio Slug Mini-Pellets) and Doff Portland
(producers of ‘Slugoids’ mini pellets) have joined forces with
Lonza – manufacturer of Meta (metaldehyde), the active
ingredient used in slug pellets – with a mission to dispel
unfounded concerns in the market-place that using slug pellets
in the garden can cause harm to birds, wildlife and pets.
The group is launching a campaign to address this emotive issue
by revealing the facts to set the record straight.
"Unfortunately there’s widespread
dissemination of ill-founded information
surrounding slug pellets, often from
organisations, media, and other authorities,
that is fuelling concern unnecessarily,"
comments Jane Lawler, head of marketing at pbi
Home & Garden.
Use Slug Pellets
Properly and they are safe
"The fact is, from the research we’ve
undertaken in the UK and overseas, we can
conclude that, used responsibly in accordance
with directions on the pack, metaldehyde slug
pellets cause no harm to wildlife, pets or the
environment," Lawler continues.
"Indeed, claims that they can cause harm are
often presented as a statement of fact, yet
when the journalists, gardening celebrities or
organisations making these claims have been
asked to produce supporting evidence, no such
proof has been forthcoming."
Doff sales and marketing director John Hancock
adds: "Metaldehyde-based slug pellets are
designed to target slugs and snails
specifically. What’s more, not only is
the proportion of metaldehyde used very small,
but the pellets are deliberately made
unattractive to all non-target species using
elements such as colour – blue being
unattractive to birds – and bittering agents
and animal repellents to deter animals." Used
properly, Slug pellets are safe in the garden.
A further concern that birds or wildlife could
be harmed by eating pellet-affected slugs
appears to be equally unfounded. Lonza
points out that birds will not generally eat
dead slugs, and furthermore highlights an
investigation that found that hedgehogs could
eat up to 200 slugs that had eaten pellets, in
one night, with no ill effects.
Equally, metaldehyde slug pellets will not
affect beneficial garden creatures such as
earthworms, carabid beetles and amphibians,
nor plants or soil. After an active life
of some two to three weeks, the pellets
disintegrate harmlessly and the metaldehyde
breaks down into carbon dioxide and water,
leaving no residue in the soil.
"Fortunately, it seems that gardeners are
voting with their feet – a recent MORI poll
conducted earlier this year to identify
precisely the level of concern found that 77
per cent of British gardeners who actively
control slugs in their garden use pellets to
do so. But we can’t ignore the fact that
53 per cent use pellets reluctantly or as a
second option if the first fails, and 15 per
cent never use them due to perceived problems
to wildlife – and it’s these people we need to
reassure and make aware of the facts," Lawler
Ironically, some of the plants that gardeners
are happy to enjoy in their gardens could be
harmful to animals if eaten – amaryllis and
daffodil bulbs, angels wings, jessamine
berries, oleander, rhododendron, sago palm,
and wild cherry and yew foliage for instance –
yet these are not treated with the suspicion
that slug pellets are.
Indeed, according to the Crop Protection
Association (CPA), many members of the public
would be horrified at the toxicity levels of
many household products, and indeed foods.
Rhubarb, raspberries, celery, coffee, most
alcohols, and poppy seeds – none would be
cleared as safe under the government’s
approval scheme without many precautions (such
as protective clothing) being required – yet
we consume them. Two tablespoons of the
apparently innocuous salt can be fatal to a
small child. "It’s the dose makes the
poison," a CPA spokesperson pointed out.
There are many items, such as washing and
cleaning products for instance, that are
happily kept and used in the home, yet could
be harmful if consumed. What is
important is how they are used and stored.
"Exactly the same applies to slug pellets,"
Meta sales and marketing director at Lonza,
Ernesto Plozza, points out. "The
inclusion, by the manufacturers, of bittering
agents and ingredients to make the products
unpalatable helps to deter consumption, and
it’s up to the user to ensure that the
products are used appropriately, according to
the instructions, and stored safely out of
reach of animals and children. Given
that they are used responsibly, in line with
the directions on the pack, they pose no
1. Metaldehyde slug
pellets should be used according to the
instructions on the pack – distributed thinly
and evenly over beds and borders, and not left
in piles or clumps, with any spillages cleared
immediately. They should be stored
responsibly, out of reach of children and
animals. Provided such directions are
followed, there is nothing to suggest that
slug pellets cause harm to wildlife, pets or
the environment. They are as safe - and in our
mind safer - than many other day to day
chemilcal - in house and garden!
Meta® is the registered trademark for
metaldehyde from Lonza Ltd. For further
information see or
This is an
emotive subject, so we print excerpts from
mails received from visitors.
"regarding slug pellets there not safe at all
my dog ate some on the 23-5-10 within 3 hours
i had too have him put too sleep there is no
antidote for them ,the suppliers should put
bigger warnings on these pellets. THANK GOD IT
WAS A DOG AND NOT A CHILD"
By David Hughes -