The Role of Slugs in the Garden Ecosystem

 In conservation, food-forests, Uncategorized

Slugs are often thought of as pests in the garden. However, they provide a number of valuable roles as a contributor to a resilient garden ecosystem. Their skill in nutrient cycling, spreading beneficial fungal spores, and supporting the soil food web makes the war on slugs not as simple as it seems.

  1. Slugs help decompose organic matter adding nutrients to the soil
  2. Slugs decompose dung and are critical to nutrient cycling. (2)
  3. Slugs help mushrooms start new colonies by spreading spores. (1)
  4. Slugs are food for snakes, salamanders, toads, frogs and beetles
  5. Slugs are food for birds including owls, robins, thrushes, ducks, geese, and more.

Slugs have an important role in the food forest.

Organic Carbon (Organic Matter) can be built faster with “chop and drop” methods than by removing the material and composting it. Chopping and dropping leaves directly on the surface of the soil adds mulch. Slugs are allies in decomposing this organic matter and turning it into rich compost.

How do I deal with slugs in the garden?

As slugs are wonderful decomposers, I welcome and encourage slugs in my food forest. If I want to remove slugs from a bed with seedlings or a vegetable bed, I toss the slugs (alive) into my compost bin.

I’d like you to consider reflecting on how much time or money you spend on making or purchasing compost. Imagine if there was a hidden creature available to provide this composting service for free.


1 “Fungal Spore Transport by Omnivorous Mycophagous Slug in Temperate Forest.” Ecology and Evolution, Wiley Online Library, 17 Feb. 2022,

2 “Ecology of Dung in the Forest.” Trees for Life, 7 Sept. 2021,

3 “Misunderstood Molluscs: Five Reasons to Love Slugs.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 4 July 2017,

Nigel Kay
I grow food, plant trees, maintain orchards, and design ecosystems that help families become healthier and happier.
Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text.

Start typing and press Enter to search