How to Get Rid of Slugs with Beer

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Robert Pavlis

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. I’ve examined copper tape in How to Get Rid of Slugs with Copper. In this post I will look at killing slugs with beer.

beer slug trap
How to get rid of slugs with beer

What is a Slug Beer Trap?

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.

Slug beer 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:

YouTube video

Source: A Time Lapse of Slugs and Beer

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.

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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?

YouTube video

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

The Latest Science

The latest testing found that bread dough and bread dough slurry were the best attractant for various species of slugs and snails. It was more effective than beer.

Getting Rid of Slugs and Snails

There are all kinds of methods for getting rid of snails and I have reviewed several of these including:

References:

1) Attractiveness of Beer and Fermentation Products to Slugs

2) Photo Source; Tony Cyphert

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

88 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Slugs with Beer”

  1. Interesting post. I see it’s an old one but comments are not too old. I guess snails and slugs are a common problem. I understand both sides. I find it depends on how much the snails and slugs have taken over. For years, Iv found beer has worked but this year yes they seem to be taking a drink and then munching on my seedlings. Some drown but not all. Some are probably thanking me for the drink to go with their snack I planted lol.
    On the one hand, these days, unlike whenI was a kid and my parents used beer (now they do sometimes but sluggo sometimes or something similar) you couldn’t go on Amazon or home Depot website and order something. in the 80s, you had to drive to a garden store, hope they have what you want and get gouged. On the other hand, these days online shopping isn’t always something we feel comfortable (we might not order enough that we can’t pay shipping. We might like to see the item we are buying and know it’s what we are looking for and we might not be knowledgeable enough to buy on our own without assistance) so we still might have that same issues of having to find the product bin our local garden store and find just buying one single cheap beer that you could get at any store helpful enough. Iv always bought one cheap big bottle of beer and once the early garden season is over, snails are gone, so make onion rings with the flat beer.
    The waste of beer reasoning doesn’t sound reason enough unless. I buy the least pricey most crappy can of beer just for that.i don’t go through a stash of good beer but I do agree with your other reasoning as it is true as when they are totally taking over the garden they do seem to drink and get out, not always butt enough.
    Next year I might buy a 15 or 20 dollar container of sluggo or something else .it’s pricier then beer but they say it does last a long time.

    Reply
    • You may very well be correct – I did not spend much time understanding JADAM.

      But what is clear is that there is no real support for either system. Lots of rules + lots of opinions but zero facts. Both systems cook up and unknown mixture of partially decomposed organic mater and microbes. Nobody knows which microbes are in any concoction or if they add any value to the plant as a foliar spray or as an application on soil.

      Reply
  2. A proper slug trap has either a greasy top, use any kind of oil and rub it around the top, the slug will slide down into the beer and then the slug can’t out. You can also use a container with a sharp edge that they cannot climb over like a sharp edge of a can. That’s how they don’t get out and then they fall back in and drown. I didn’t read every comment so maybe someone else mentioned this.

    Reply
  3. Pretty old post, still going strong, I guess slug problems will continue forever?

    It’s been the hottest, muggiest, rainiest summer I think I’ve ever seen. This is a very small yard and the darn things are EVERYWHERE at night.

    My honey bees have died and they’re now living in the hive too. This feels like a horror movie.

    Do people fish with these things? Maybe I’ll put a sign out front advertising “pick your own”. They’re all over my shed, my railings, my trash cans.

    I think I’m going to try the beer trap in a pie tin, with a Dollar Tree bug net set in the bottom, and I’ll scoop them out when I see them, then replace the net.

    I hope I can sign my way back to this site to update you all. Wish me luck.

    Reply
  4. I am using beer and the scientific method – observation.
    I am also using drainage plates, so they can hang on to the dry sides and drink.
    Some were not attracted by my flashlight, and were able to exit. Until I pushed them into the beer pool. Some were able to streeeetch their body’s up and around, keeping their shell on the safe side. So, I need to use different containers.
    Yet, the next day, I see good sized garden snails upside down and dead.
    How is it that some “drown” and others don’t?
    Is it the quantity of alcohol in the beer? The beer I was using was 4.7%. I know it’s the yeast that attracts them, but they have to get drunk enough to “drown”, because they don’t naturally “drown” – I watched them maneuver underwater and get to land.
    Higher % of alcohol – I’ll try 5.5% tomorrow eve. Get them drunk faster, like a cheap date! I could also mix a little cheap white wine into the beer. A little shouldn’t hurt the yeast attraction.
    Also, the anti-beer ppl who claim that the smell will just attract more snails “from 200 yards”: If that is true, then why do we have to put the traps so close to where we think they are? I had snails on the other side of the yard who didn’t know there was a party going on.
    Report finished.

    Reply
  5. I wonder whether the beer traps with more alcohol in them could be more effective — not because alcohol attracts slugs but, perhaps, because drunken slugs are more likely to drown?

    Reply
  6. Thank you for this information. When you talk about the yeast-sugar mix, what ratio are you talking about? Also, does it matter if the container is a metal container (people talk about the pie tins) or a plastic yogurt container, or small cat food tin (too small?)?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  7. I have gotten rid of 100s of slugs by putting out in my landscape disposable used plates with food items that attract them (sweet corn cobbs are one of the best, banana peels and veggies past their edible prime also work). After dinner when dark I go out with flash light, used ziplock bag, and disposable glove or bag over the hand that will pick the slugs up and put them in the ziplock (to avoid getting slime on my hand). Occasionally I spot a slug not dining in the plate while walking btw ‘feeding stations’, but it has been amazing how many come to feed, and I benefit from an evening walk! Additionally, this method costs nothing!

    Reply
  8. I use Diatomaceous Earth – I have a photo of it, you an buy regualr grade or food grade for crops – I get regular grade – it is VERY light like baby powder, and I sue the sprinkle top on the jug – ( have photo but not sure where to attach, I don’t see an option for that here).. it does reduce the amount of slugs in my gardens. I also did put out some beer with a few drops of dish soap, notice one fell in and it seemed to disintegrate the “slime” off its body, as it was trailing a “slimy yellow-green skin” behind it..yuk. But the earth does work – you sprinkle it in the dirt or mulch and rake through lightly – do again after a heavy type rain –

    Reply

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