Garden Myths - Learn the truth about gardening

Does Cornmeal Kill Slugs and Snails?

The claim is that slugs and snails are attracted to cornmeal and after eating it, the cornmeal expands and kills them. What a simple organic method for getting rid of slugs, but does it work?

Does Cornmeal Kill Slugs and Snails?

Does Cornmeal Kill Slugs and Snails?

Do Slugs Eat Cornmeal?

Yes, they seem to love the stuff.

Does Cornmeal Kill Them?

The simple answer is no. In fact cornmeal is commonly fed to snails to purge them of toxic material before eating them. They need to stay alive and healthy for this process to work.

It is not clear where the idea of exploding snails comes from but it is a common belief for several different pests including ants and earwigs. I don’t know of a single pest that explodes after eating something. Just because dry material expands when it gets wet does not mean that an animal’s digestive system is not able to handle it.

Corn Gluten Meal

Don’t confuse the cornmeal with corn gluten meal. Corn meal is the yellow granular material sold in grocery stores, and corn gluten meal is sold at the hardware store for feeding lawns and preventing seed germination.

Getting Rid of Slugs and Snails

There are all kinds of methods for getting rid of snails and I have reviewed several of these including:


  1. Photo source; madame.furie


Robert Pavlis
Editor of
I live in southern Ontario, Canada, zone 5 and have been gardening a long time. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

I hope you find Garden Myths an educational site that helps you understand your garden better.

6 Responses to 'Does Cornmeal Kill Slugs and Snails?'

  1. Michael Murrsy says:

    Love your articles and the debunking of the many gardening myths that abound.

  2. growerjenn says:

    Here is how I got my slug infestation under control: First I put out lots of 2×4 and 2×6’s for the slugs to live under. During the day the boards were turned over several times; the slugs were picked for the chickens and the undersides of the boards and the ground were sprayed liberally with 1:1 diluted ammonia. In the evening the plants that were covered with slugs – primarily chinese cabbage and lettuce, but also some flowers, and under the boards and pots again – were sprayed with the ammonia solution. This went on for several weeks, maybe longer. (I did burn some plant tops, but that was incidental compared to the slug damage.) The second year, they were manageable. I tried every single home remedy before this: DE, copper, beer, salt, slug-go, no mulch, sand, etc. I have since learned that wasps and beetles are a predator to slugs. Wasps now have free reign in my garden and the only sting I’ve had is stepping into a shoe with a wasp hiding in it on a cold morning. (Wasps also help with aphid control)

  3. Shoko Goicochea says:

    Very interesting articles and questions and answers. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Have a nice day.

  4. Does Corn repell Raccoons? It’s pretty much the same question.

  5. Scott Reed says:

    First, there is no scientific evidence that cornmeal kills snails or slugs
    Second, moist corn meal is what you feed snails several days before you eat them in order to clean the insides out. Try beer in a shallow pan or comerical pellets

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