Killing slugs with kindness

The one where I turn to drink to solve my sluggish problems.

My vegan friend Gabriel realised how I deploy my effective slug and snail ‘meet and great’ campaign in early evening each year, and he wasn’t that impressed.

I tried to point out that it meant that I would be able to have fresh homegrown vegetables and a bee-friendly flower garden, but still, his mock-upset at my slug and snail social calendar made me wonder whether those squishy pests could be persuaded to stop their destructive deeds by some other means.

I admit that I’ve also used pellets in the past, but with the increase of birds, cats, and that hedgehog in my garden, I decided that I needed to try to find an alternative solution.

I’d often thought of beer traps, but as a non-drinker, buying beer felt sickening, but the idea of pouring it into the garden felt like justice, so I thought that I would give it a go. Would it work?

Then came a timely email offer from Suttons..

Beer Traps

I snapped up four green plastic beer traps from Suttons Seeds, and reluctantly bought some Carlsberg from a supermarket, and then set out to plant the traps in my garden.

They’re pretty simple in construction – a tube, with an inner sleeve. The inner sleeve has a small hole in the bottom, and a little tilting top flap connected to it.

Green plastic beer trap for slugs
The plastic beer trap

The hole allows you to lift out the inner sleeve and drain the beer into the bottom tube, so that you can tip out your drunken slug and snail victims. You can then place the inner sleeve back in, and the beer re-enters it.

The little plastic flap, which looks like some kind of parasol, is actually to stop the rain getting in a diluting the beer, but might also stop birds and slow down evaporation a little.

I used a dibber to make the holes for each trap, setting them in areas of the garden where I’d seen the most brazen slugs, or where I’d planted things that were at risk of slug damage.

Slug beer trap set in garden
The beer traps were easy to insert into the ground with a dibber.

With the traps in position, I poured the Carlsberg in up to about half-way level, and clicked the flap/lid back into position.

beer trap with carlsberg inside.
The slug beer trap with Carlsberg added. I’ll never make a barman.

I then tweeted that the new Slug Bar was open, with free beer for slugs and snails (so that word was out!).

The traps were set…

I returned a few days later.

After draining out the four traps, and tipping the contents out onto the sunny path, I think there must have been about 120 slugs of all colours and sizes. They were dead. Their brief alcohol addiction and caused them to get drunk and fall into the beer – drowning them with kindness.

This also taught me that snails were not susceptible to the beer traps, so the joy of the ‘meet and greet’ can resume (in secret obvs), in a bid to actually have any plants in the garden.

As for the slug corpses, the birds didn’t seem that excited by them, and i eventually swept them into the border, ironically to feed the plants they would have otherwise eaten.

I’ve only ever seen/heard the hedgehog in the garden once, long after I’d stopped using pellets, so hopefully it’ll return and help to keep the slug population down.

How do you combat slugs and snails in your garden? Surely we’re not all throwing them over our neighbours’ fences?

Thanks for reading, and happy gardening!

Andrew

Slug photo by David Short via CreativeCommons