Organic Pest Control: How to Build a Slug and Snail Beer Trap
Garden slugs and snails can cause considerable damage to vegetable and flower plants and are found in most gardens that are not located in arid or semi-arid locations. While there are commercially available slug and snail traps and pesticides on the market, you can you’re your own organic slug trap using some left over beer and some containers you have lying around the house. While no method is foolproof, these traps will attract slugs and snail that are in the area and reduce their numbers substantially.
Other organic methods for slug and snail control are coarse sand and pulverized lime. These materials are supposed to irritate the body of the slug and deter them from entering the garden and eating plants. The fact that slugs produce mucus to allow them to move also offers some protection from rough surfaces and mild chemicals.
Slug and Snail Damage
Slugs and snails feed on the leaves and stems of plants primarily at night. You may be able to locate where they hide during the day by following their shiny trails back to their nesting area. They usually hide under stones, patio pavers, fallen branches, leaf litter, flower pots, or sometimes under along the exterior of your home.
Slugs and snails feed on leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, kale, as well as fruits like raspberries, strawberries, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Hosta plants are another favorite of slugs since they feed on the leaves and can also hide under the plant during the heat of the day.
Hosta plant with slug damage
Damaged Cabbage plant
Slug damage to strawberry
Slug damage to tomato
Supplies and Tools
Flower pot dish, or plastic or aluminum container
Saucer or small flat board
Four wood dowels or sticks cut to about 4 inches long for each trap
The slug beer trap is basically a container filled with beer. The saucer is placed onto the sticks or dowels to provide shelter for the trap. You can try setting the trap without the saucer cover but you may be able to attract the snails and slugs during the day with this method.
Placing the traps
Locate the beer traps close to the plants you are trying to protect. In the garden you can place the traps between rows or around plants that are favored by slugs. In planting beds you may want to place a few traps closer to where the slugs and snail emerge from at night.
Building the Trap
Basically you dig a hole the same shape as the container you are using and place it in the hole so that the edges are flush with the ground. You may want to dig the hole slightly deeper and slope the soil towards the container but this is not necessary. Shallow containers work fine and require less digging to install.
To make a cover for the trap insert 4 wood dowels or sticks around the container and place the saucer or board on top of the sticks.
Filling the trap
Fill the container about half full with beer. Slugs are attracted to the smell of the beer. They will crawl into the container and drink the beer as they cling to the sides. As they drink they will lose their grip and fall into the beer and drown. In the morning, birds may see the slugs and eat them so you may not see many slugs in your traps if birds find them first. If you have installed a cover over the trap this will not occur.
Some people like to add yeast to help attract the slugs even more with the odor. Other people like to add salt to the beer to kill the slugs faster once they fall in. The problem with this is that the salt may affect the taste of the beer to the point that they will not drink it. It is best to stick with straight beer and change it about 2 days.
Slugs in the beer trap