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.

Building Natural Ponds book, by Robert Pavlis

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. I cut a plastic bottle and buried it in my planter. Within an hour Iv caught two slugs. How best to dispose of them??

    Reply
  2. This is supposed to work. It meets your criteria of being proposed by by a horticultural institute:
    https://extension.oregonstate.edu/gallery/how-create-slug-trap-using-bread-dough-slurry

    Would be interesting to see a video. I bet it looks similar to the beer video. It probably works if you spike the mix with slug pellets (which are essentially also a mix of bread dough and poison)

    Though the original study used the dough mix only to attract the critters, liquid metaldehyde was used in the trap to kill the slugs.
    https://www.mdpi.com/2075-4450/12/4/328

    However the first article omits this and in my opinion this is creating just another myth.
    I bet it is more effective to use metaldehhyde pellets instead of them traps.

    Reply
    • Thank you for posting this. I am following up with the researcher. The second link does mention using metaldehyde in section 2.3.1.

      Reply
  3. Beer traps work well – I usually pop them out and then go ‘hunting’ around 10pm with a torch – either gabbing them with a tissue and throwing them into salt or pushing them into the beer to drown. Sound’s gruesome but needed for my Hostas!
    Guineas and cheap French lager both work a treat 😸

    Reply

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