Updated: July 2, 2023


Slaters, also known as woodlice or pill bugs, are common pests that can wreak havoc on your lettuce plants. These small crustaceans feed on decaying organic matter and can cause significant damage to young lettuce seedlings by eating away at the leaves and stems. If left unchecked, a slater infestation can lead to stunted growth and even the death of your lettuce plants. In this article, we will discuss effective methods to get rid of slaters and protect your lettuce plants.

Identifying Slaters

Before we delve into the methods of slater control, it is important to be able to identify these pests. Slaters are small, oval-shaped crustaceans that range in size from 5-15mm. They are usually dark brown or gray in color and have a segmented body with seven pairs of legs. Slaters thrive in moist environments and are most active during the night.

Prevention is Key

The best way to deal with slaters is to prevent them from infesting your lettuce plants in the first place. Here are some preventive measures you can take:

1. Maintain Proper Garden Hygiene

Slaters are attracted to decaying organic matter, so it is important to keep your garden clean and tidy. Remove any dead leaves or plant debris regularly to eliminate potential food sources for slaters.

2. Improve Drainage

Slaters prefer damp environments, so improving drainage in your garden can help deter them. Avoid overwatering your lettuce plants and ensure that water does not pool around the base of the plants.

3. Use Mulch with Caution

While mulch can be beneficial for retaining moisture and preventing weed growth, it can also provide a favorable habitat for slaters. If you choose to use mulch, opt for materials that are less attractive to slaters, such as straw or wood chips.

Natural Remedies

If you already have a slater infestation on your lettuce plants, there are several natural remedies you can try to get rid of these pests. Here are some effective methods:

1. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural substance that is made from the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms called diatoms. It works by dehydrating and killing slaters when they come into contact with it. Sprinkle a thin layer of diatomaceous earth around the base of your lettuce plants to create a barrier that will deter slaters.

2. Citrus Peel Traps

Slaters are repelled by the scent of citrus fruits. To make a citrus peel trap, place orange or lemon peels near your lettuce plants. Slaters will be attracted to the scent and gather around the peels. You can then collect and dispose of them.

3. Beer Traps

Beer traps are an effective method for controlling slaters. Bury a container, such as a yogurt container or jar, in the ground near your lettuce plants and fill it halfway with beer. Slaters will be attracted to the smell of the beer and crawl into the container, where they will drown. Check the traps regularly and replace the beer as needed.

4. Beneficial Predators

Introducing natural predators of slaters can help control their population. Ground beetles, centipedes, and spiders are known to prey on slaters. Encourage these beneficial predators by providing suitable habitats, such as rocks or logs, in your garden.

Organic Pest Control Products

If natural remedies do not provide satisfactory results, there are also organic pest control products available that can help eliminate slaters. These products are derived from natural ingredients and are safe to use in the garden. Look for products containing spinosad or pyrethrum, which are effective against slaters.


Slaters can be a nuisance for lettuce plants, but with the right preventive measures and control methods, you can successfully get rid of them. Remember to maintain proper garden hygiene, improve drainage, and use natural remedies or organic pest control products when necessary. By taking these steps, you can protect your lettuce plants from slater infestations and ensure a healthy harvest.