If you have flowerbeds or a garden then you have probably battled it out with slugs in the garden. One of those battles usually involves picking the slimy things off your plants and out of the soil around them. But once you have done this what can you do with all of them? There are several options available and one of those options is to add them to your compost.
Can You Put Slugs in Your Compost Bin or Compost Pile?
It’s really all upon personal preference as to whether or not you want to put slugs in your compost bin or pile. Adding slugs to your compost won’t hurt anything. In fact, if you have a compost pile then there is almost a 100% chance there are already slugs in there. There might be times that you see them in the compost and wonder if the compost is any good still due to the amount of slugs in it.
Signs of a healthy compost pile that is composting correctly should have things such as slugs, earwigs, and other insects. Having these insects in your compost is a sign that your compost pile is productive.
They are all primary consumers of organic matter. Commonly slugs will feed on dead leaves, decaying and dying organic matter, and other dead insects that are in your garden. But that doesn’t make them any more likable to gardeners, especially when they’re munching on crops you are trying to grow.
Some people prefer to just rid themselves of the slugs that they have gotten off their plants and out of their garden and other people like to find a better use for them.
Are Slugs Good For Compost?
Slugs’ entire purpose in the ecosystem is to break down decaying matter and be a food source for things such as birds, snakes, toads, and other small predators. Since they help break down decaying stuff, this is a great thing for a compost pile. Slugs can help speed up the process of composting by breaking down what you put in your compost bin or compost pile.
What About Getting Too Many Slugs In Your Compost?
If you are adding slugs to your compost you might worry about getting an overpopulation of slugs in there. Most of the time the slugs will live out a natural life in a compost pile and there will be other animals, such as birds, that will help control the population of slugs in compost piles.
Closed bins and tumblers however will not have these predators of slugs. The heat that these composters generate will bring the life cycle to an end for the slugs as the temperature rises.
There is one caution about the heat of compost tumblers and bins and adding slugs to them. The amount of heat that they can generate will not allow for slugs to live too long and they in turn can end up being part of the composting matter in your tumbler. When this happens, having additional slugs in here can be like adding meat and will cause the compost to smell. It however will not be harmful to anything except your nose.
Conclusion About Slugs in Compost
Having slugs in your compost is a good sign that everything is healthy and decomposing as it should. Adding more slugs that you pick off your healthy plants won’t hurt your compost and can in fact help the composting process along. It is all up to you as to if you want to add more slugs to your compost or get rid of them by other means such as slug traps or giving them to your chickens.
- Trautmann, Nancy. Invertebrates of the Compost Pile. Cornell University. http://compost.css.cornell.edu/invertebrates.html
- Naeve, Linda. Slug it Out with Slugs in Your Garden. Iowa State University. https://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/2006/jun/070201.htm
- Melancon, Merritt. Compost pile health can be judged by the company it keeps. 2014. University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. https://newswire.caes.uga.edu/story/5120/compost-critters.html
- Troubleshooting Compost Piles. Cornell University Tompkins County Cooperative Extension. http://albany.cce.cornell.edu/resources/compost-troubleshooting-compost-piles