It is getting warmer and the Hostas are growing. It is time for the slugs and snails to come out and do their damage. There is a lot of advice on the net on how to get rid of slugs and snails including; beer traps, diatomaceous earth, egg shells, salt and copper tape. In this post I will look at killing slugs with beer.
What are Beer Slug Traps?
Slugs and snails are apparently attracted to beer. If you take a small container like a tuna tin, fill it with beer, and set it on the ground. The slugs will be attracted to the beer, go for a sip, fall in and drown. Don’t submerge the top of the tin even with the soil level or you might also kill ground beetles which eat slugs. Keep rims at least 1″ above soil level.
Beer slug traps only attract slugs in the surrounding few feet, so you need lots of them to be effective. According to Slugoff, a company that makes a more sophisticated beer trap, you need a trap every meter (3 feet).
Do Beer Slug Traps work?
A video is worth a thousand words:
There are several important points to notice. Slugs do seem to be attracted to the beer. You can see several going past the slug trap, and then changing direction toward the trap. Near the beginning of the video you can also see a slug about a foot away from the trap, who turns around and leaves–they need to get close for the trap for it to work well. Most slugs take a drink and leave. They have no trouble climbing up the side of the container. A few do drop in and die, but most don’t.
The slug beer traps do seem to work but there are some limitations:
- they work over a very short distance
- most slugs will just enjoy the beer and leave. Maybe, they will have a hangover the next day and leave your Hostas alone?
Do you Need to Use Beer?
Reference 1 compares the effectiveness of various beers and other fermentation products like yeast solutions to see which works best. Here are some of their conclusions:
- slugs are not attracted to the alcohol, it’s the yeast or yeast by products that attracts them
- different beers do work quite differently
- sugar + baking yeast was as effective as some beers, but not as effective as Budweiser.
How to Get Rid Slugs
The slug beer traps are modestly effective. They will kill slugs, but most will get away. I think it is a real shame to waste beer on slug traps. If you feel the need to use them, use sugar + yeast–and drink the beer!