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I’ve Got Slugs in My Beer!

Slugs Like Beer

I recently wrote about my serious aphid problem. Well, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) that is not the only pest problem I have this year. Slugs have been a recurring pain in the neck each growing season, and this year is certainly no different.

One of the disadvantages of using a mulch like straw to keep moisture in and weeds down, is that you also end up creating more potential slug habitat.

In past years I have simply tolerated the crop grazing, primarily due to the fact that they didn’t really seem to have a major impact on my ‘important’ crop plants, such as the tomatoes and zucchinis. This year however, with all my garden expansions and a renewed desire to nurture the best garden possible, I definitely want to see if I can mitigate the slug problem.

I’ve heard that slugs love beer. Luckily, I don’t mind having the odd wobbly pop myself, so I decided to test out the ‘beer trap’ method of slug removal – making sure that all remaining slugicide did not go to waste.

My strawberry patch seems to be slug central this year, so I thought this was as good a place as any to do my testing. My ‘traps’ consisted of three shallow containers with some beer in them. Pretty straight-forward stuff.

So far so good. When I checked on the traps the morning after setting them up, each of them had at least a couple slugs in them, along with an assortment of other invertebrate party animals – ants, flies, beetles etc. Interestingly, I left the traps for an additional day, but didn’t seem to trap any more slugs. Hmmm…these beer traps could get expensive (and fun at the same time – haha).

All joking aside, I think I’ll be trying out some other methods. If anyone knows of any good techniques for getting rid of slugs (in an eco-friendly manner) please let me know. One possibility that I’ve considered is diatomaceous earth, but I’m a little worried about hurting ‘good guy’ critters like lady bugs etc.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted!

[tags]slugs, slug traps, pests, garden pests, diatomaceous earth[/tags]

Written by Compost Guy on June 25th, 2009 with 5 comments.
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#1. June 26th, 2009, at 6:39 PM.

My experience with the beer trap is that not all the slugs actually fall into it and some even manage to escape after falling in. I check my traps an hour or two after sun set. The trap walls are black with slugs!!! Lots of big ones too. Grab a flashlight and harvest them. You don’t have to change the beer trap daily either, it tends to work for about 5 days.

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#2. June 26th, 2009, at 7:03 PM.

Safest solution is to make the environment less inviting; switching from overhead to below-soil-surface irrigation helps a lot, since snails and especially slugs won’t stay where the surface is dry. But if that’s not an option, or to save vulnerable plants while you’re working on that, copper foil barriers work very well.

Beer is a great option, being bait and killer in one; I keep meaning to try EM as snail-bait, and I’ve read that molasses, yeast, and water can be fermented together to use that way, if you’d rather drink your beer. Other baits work better the less inviting the overall area is for the things, so in an area I’d switched to clay pot irrigation, I found that I could lure the remaining snails just by laying a water-soaked wooden board on the soil overnight.

If you’d like to raid your compostables, eggshells are supposed to work pretty well against some sorts of slugs (though not the ones we grow in Texas, from what I can see!) broken in large bits so as to have lots of sharp edges and mixed with UCG. And the rinds of overripe cantaloupes and muskmelons, flesh-side to soil but propped up so the mollusks can get underneath, draw them in and leave them alive, in case you were thinking of starting a helifarm to go with your wormeries.

…slave to the bucket(s)

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#3. June 29th, 2009, at 1:27 AM.

If you can have them a couple of chickens would be of geat help. Or even Muscovy ducks. They’re pretty quiet.

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#4. July 1st, 2009, at 2:18 PM.

I had the same view of slugs, basically the bounty could be shared. I used beer traps several times but recently it got a bit excessive. I spoke to a guy at the nursery and he said the beer trap is good to use if you want to figure out how big of a problem you have but its not a long term solution.
He sold me an organic product, pellets that slugs either eat then take bakc and die or dont like the smell of and stay away. So far this is a superior solution to beer traps and it last longer even with all the rain.

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#5. July 2nd, 2009, at 6:58 PM.

Thanks for all the great ideas everyone!
Someone sent me an email recommending ferric phosphate (likely the active ingredient in those pellets, JerseyGreen) – it is apparently eco-friendly (approved by organic ag industry), and adds some fertilizer value as well. The stuff apparently causes slugs/snails to stop feeding and eventually starve.
I almost grabbed some at the store recently, but the astronomical price held me back. I may still get some though, since my slug population is off the charts.

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