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I slept out in my bivvy bag (UK army surplus goretex bag with a synthetic sleeping bag inside) in the woods recently, and woke twice to find a big fat slug on my face. It's never happened before. I do like getting close to the rest of nature, but there are limits.

Are there any simple (ideally not involving chemical repellents or biocides) ways to discourage slugs from venturing inside my sleeping bag?

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  • Did you have a lot of moisture accumulating inside the bag?
    – user2169
    Nov 11 '20 at 16:19
  • no more than usual. A little condensation on the foam sleeping mat
    – aucuparia
    Nov 11 '20 at 16:27
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    I have to say that is a new one to me. I’ve stepped on slugs in the middle of the night, but never had one crawl on me.
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 11 '20 at 16:44
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    Some styles of bivvy bag zip completely closed, and have a mesh panel for ventilation. That seems like it would keep slugs out better than the style that cinch closed. Are you open to modifying your bivvy bag? If so, please add a photo so we can see what style it is.
    – csk
    Nov 11 '20 at 19:24
  • it is one with an open face (drawstring). A big mesh bag that fits over the whole top of the sleeping bag could work - and would also help against mozzies in the summer.
    – aucuparia
    Nov 19 '20 at 11:18
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Unfortunately they like the damp (as we typically have in the UK at this time of year) and will find warmth. So there will be lots about and may seek you out. You either need to repel them from your face, or attract them to something else.

In the garden I use beer traps to draw them away from my plants. They're dishes with a lid like an umbrella, that you put on or slightly in the ground, and add beer. The slugs then drown in the beer. Supposedly it's the yeast that attracts them rather than the alcohol, so carrying a dry mix of yeast and sugar, and adding water at your bivvy site would be worth a try, with a non-food container to hold it. Place it near your head, on the ground.

If you'd consider cosmetic and related products, some may attract them, but others may repel them. In particular various plants, many of them herbs are reputed to repel slugs. Rubbing your face with garlic may not be an option (though I wonder about eating very garlicky dinner). Lavender is one that stands out from this list (at the bottom of the page) as it's used both as a scent, and in natural insect repellents. If you've got any of the latter (I used to have one called "bugs away" that was citronella, lavender, etc.) it might be worth trying some of that. Note that some essential oils aren't great for waterproof fabrics, so don't go splashing it around too much.

I'm glad I bought a sleeping bag with built-in mosquito net. The slugs would be too close for comfort but not as bad as on bare skin.

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  • Nice ideas in there. It would be a good excuse to carry (and drink most of) a can or two of beer...
    – aucuparia
    Nov 12 '20 at 19:08
  • Just leave the dregs in the can, and it's your container too. The problem would be resisting the last mouthful. When I bivvy I'm on a bike so space is at even more of a premium than weight (and I'm under a tarp not in a bag).
    – Chris H
    Nov 12 '20 at 19:55
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    Rubbing your face with garlic is an option - I tried it and it seemed to work. No slugs on a damp night. Not pleasant though; I had troubled dreams about cooking pasta sauce all night.
    – aucuparia
    Nov 17 '20 at 13:17
  • @aucuparia I like garlic, but inside me not outside (and not raw). While smelling of flowers isn't exactly my thing, I'd prefer lavender (and I think it's the leaves you'd use anyway).
    – Chris H
    Nov 17 '20 at 13:20
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You could sprinkle a ring of crushed diatomaceous earth around your bag. I have heard that slugs and snails can't cross over it, it is like cut glass to their soft bodies. It is a very lightweight material that should not be hard to carry a small supply of.

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  • This worked for me when I had to protect some some flowering plants from slugs.
    – ab2
    Nov 14 '20 at 3:29
  • I haven't tried this, but I think the amounts involved would be rather large. For a 5cmx1cm ring all the way around the bag it would take 2 or 3 litres of DE. And in woodland leaf litter you might even need a deeper layer than that.
    – aucuparia
    Nov 17 '20 at 13:18
  • 4 handfuls would do it, like 1 liter probably. Easy if you are car camping, not so much if you're backpacking. It is very lightweight but the bulk would be an issue. Nov 18 '20 at 2:04

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