Snails and slugs

As described in my book, Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting, to catch snails and slugs, you only need a small amount of beer in the bottom of a plastic jar, or yoghurt or dip container that is buried in soil under mulch. Bury the container at an angle with the lip of the jar just above soil level so that it is easier for the slimy creatures to enter the jar.
You don’t have to buy beer especially, as these pests are are attracted to the yeast smell of beer. It does not matter if the beer is flat. You can keep left over beer in a screw top jar in the fridge for topping up snail traps as required.
Use plastic containers, not glass, as glass can shatter in a hail storm, scattering shards and beer in all directions. Beer in soil is very detrimental to earthworms.

6 thoughts on “Snails and slugs

  1. “Beer in soil is very detrimental to earthworms”
    Really happy to have gotten rid of those harmful slug and snail pellets. I have been using beer traps successfully to remove slugs from my lettuce/chicory patch. But after a couple of weeks I used to empty the old beer into the garden, until I read your post. Just wanted to know why dumping beer into the garden is bad for earthworms?

    Hi Chris, don’t know whether it is the yeast or the alcohol. We discovered many limp, emaciated earthworms in a garden bed when I used glass containers for the beer bait and a hailstorm smashed the glass and the beer seeped into the soil. Earthworms in other beds were unaffected, so it seemed pretty clear that it was the beer that caused the problem. Now we use plastic containers under mulch which has protected them from damage. – Lyn

  2. Mountainwildlife, saying that “you don’t have to buy beer especially”, was based on the premise that beer drinking is a popular entertainment in Australia, and we have found that slugs at least (we don’t have snails) aren’t fussy about the beer being flat – they only require a yeasty smell. We also don’t tip the beer out of the traps every time we empty them, we just scoop out the slugs while wearing rubber gloves, and reuse the same beer, so it is not expensive – even cheaper if you make your own beer.
    However, for non-beer drinkers, Bobbee at Aussies Living Simply has found that 1 tablespoon of vegemite and 3 tblsp. sugar dissolved in a little hot water, then diluted to medium black tea strength with cold water works very well at trapping snails, slugs and slaters (or earwigs). This recipe would also be safer if you intend feeding your catch to your chooks.
    But, Bobbee also found that bees were drawn to the sugar and became trapped, which is a problem. Sugar in baits is very attractive to bees and can result in them taking diseases back to their hives. If the traps are half buried under mulch as described above, this should prevent bees becoming trapped.
    Fruit fly are also said to be attracted to the yeasty smell of fermenting fruit but we have not found beer or vegemite to be particularly attractive to fruit fly.

  3. Hi Lyn, when you say “You don’t have to buy beer especially” as they are attracted to the yeast, do you mean you can use something else? Could vegemite work also? (yeast content)? We are non-drinkers but did buy our slugs a bottle of vb recently- we caught 32 ! Just too expensive to do it every night. I enjoy your blog- thanks 🙂

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