Pros: No harmful chemicals
Cons: It doesn't keep all the snails out of the plant pots.
Now that I’ve managed to eliminate the caterpillars who were eating my petunias, I’ve got to make sure the snails don’t start munching on the flowers. Since I don’t like using pesticides (because of the pets) I wanted to use something that would naturally repel the snails and slugs.
After doing some online research, I learned that snails avoid copper. I thought about gluing a bunch of pennies around my plant pots, but instead decided to buy a copper product from the garden department at my local Home Depot – Ambrands 15 foot Slug and Snail Copper Tape.
You’ll notice from the above product picture and merchant links that the product is actually called Corry’s Slug and Snail Copper Tape Barrier and is manufactured by Ambrands.
The Copper Tape that Keeps the Snails and Slugs Away Naturally
Ambrands Corry’s Copper Tape Barrier is a 15 foot roll of tape with a thin copper facing. It's about 1.5 inches wide and can be cut to a desired length and placed (taped) around various sized pots and planters. The actual copper with sticky tape backside is rather thin; it’s slightly thinner than tin foil. Although it’s thin, I found that it’s best to use a pair of scissors to cut the tape. Cutting it gives you a smooth edge of copper to work with.
How does the Copper Tape Work against Snail and Slugs?
The copper acts as a barrier repellant only, it does not kill the snails and slugs. When the acidic slime of a snail (or slug) comes in to contact with the copper, the snail will receive a mild nonlethal shock. This small zap of electricity isn’t enough to make the snails run away - I observed one snail glide around the perimeter of a pot and occasionally test the copper protected area.
Using the Copper Tape
Ambrands Corry’s Copper Tape Barrier is easy to use; just cut the desired length and stick it around the entire pot or planter. Since it’s kind of thin, I found that it’s best to slowly remove the paper backing of the tape as I applied it around my plant pots. If you peel all the paper off the back of the copper tape before you start wrapping it around the pot, the copper has a tendency to crease and wrinkle.
Deciding where to put the tape (top, bottom, or middle) on the pot was probably the most difficult task. I chose to place the copper tape near the top of my terra cotta pots, about 2 inches below the lip of the pot. Putting the tape near the lip of the pots added a decorative look. However, if I had plants that were hanging off the lip, I would’ve placed the tape lower down. Snails are very agile and will slither up hanging tendrils of a plant.
Does the Copper Tape Prevent the Snails and Slugs from Entering the Pot?
Initially, the copper tape prevented the snails from gaining access to my petunia filled pots. They headed towards my unprotected cactus and other succulent plants and started munching on those. I didn’t put the copper tape around those plants because the snails never seemed to bother with them.
A few weeks after having placed the copper tape around my petunia pots I noticed a few snails snuggled up in the moist petunia plant soil. I have no idea how they accomplished this! They’re either able to stretch over the width of the copper tape or the tape has lost its efficacy. The copper does have some discoloration (tarnish) from moisture since I often use the hose to spray the plants. I’m not sure if that has something to do with the snails being able to cross the copper.
In the meantime, I’ve been picking these super snails out of the petunia pots and placing them in a pot that I use for plant clippings, wilted flowers and other organic debris. The snails are happy in this pot and don’t bother leaving it as long as I keep it filled with stuff for them to munch on.
Would I use Abrands Corry’s Copper Tape in the Future?
I probably will not make another purchase of Corry’s Copper Tape. I will use the remainder of the tape roll and experiment with doubling up the existing borders on the pots.
There are other copper products (that I saw on Amazon.com) available that look like thin wiring. I might try something like that in the future.