Killing Slugs With Beer: How To Make A Beer Slug Trap

Slug On Leafy Greens
(Image credit: nilapictures)

You found irregular, smooth-sided holes chewed in the leaves of your newly planted garden or flower seedlings. There may have also been a young plant clipped off at the stem. The tell-tale signs are there – silvery mucus slime trails. You know the culprits are slugs.

These slimy members of the mollusk phylum like moist soil and warm temperatures. They generally feed at night and target young seedlings. During the day, slugs like to hide under mulches and in wormholes, so handpicking these intruders is difficult. Tilling and cultivating destroy their hiding places, but this can dry out the soil and damage plant roots.

Perhaps, you've heard of killing slugs with beer and wonder if this alternative method for non-chemical control is effective.

Does Beer Kill Slugs?

Many gardeners swear using beer as a slug trap is one home remedy that really does work. Slugs are attracted to the yeasty odors found in beer. In fact, they love it so much they crawl into containers with beer and drown.

For gardeners who'd rather share their favorite craft brew with friends, not foe, never fear. A very inexpensive beer substitute can be mixed up with common kitchen ingredients and is just as effective as killing slugs with beer.

Making beer traps for slugs is an easy DIY project, but there are some limitations to using them. These traps only attract slugs within a limited range, so traps need to be placed approximately every square yard (meter). Additionally, the beer or yeast solution evaporates quickly and needs to be replenished every few days. Rainwater can also dilute the solution, thereby reducing its effectiveness.

How to Make a Beer Slug Trap

Follow these easy steps for making beer traps for slugs:

  • Gather up several inexpensive plastic containers, preferably with lids. Recycled yogurt containers or margarine tubs are an appropriate size for making beer traps for slugs. 
  • Cut a few holes near the top of the plastic container. The slugs will use these holes to access the trap.
  • Bury the containers in the ground with about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) remaining above the soil line. Keeping the containers slightly above the soil level helps prevent beneficial insects from falling into the traps. Concentrate the containers in areas of the garden where slug problems are the greatest.
  • Pour 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm.) of beer or beer substitute into each container. Place the lids on the containers. 

Check the traps regularly. Add beer or beer substitute as needed. Remove dead slugs regularly.

Killing Slugs with Beer Substitute

Mix the following ingredients and use in place of beer when making beer traps for slugs:

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) yeast
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) sugar
  • 1 cup (237 ml.) water

Garden plants and flowers are most vulnerable to slug attacks when they are young and tender. Once the plants are established, killing slugs with beer traps can become unnecessary. If you're no longer seeing snail trails on your plants, it's time to gather up the containers and recycle them.

Laura Miller

Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.