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Beer Traps for Slugs and Snails: Don’t Do It! | Experiences & Alternatives

In this section, you’ll find everything you need to know about beer traps, including how they work and what their advantages and disadvantages are.

You’ll find out why in most cases the use of beer traps is a horrible idea and what alternatives there are for keeping your vulnerable plants safe.

bread-yeast attracts slugs and snails
It is the yeast that attracts the slugs.

Effects of Beer Traps on Slugs/Snails

Beer traps are a popular way of killing snails and slugs that invade your garden.

Because slugs and snails of all kinds like beer a lot, they are lured into the traps.

In fact, it is the yeast in the beer that attracts them so much.

That is why these traps lure snails from a large distance, which is the opposite of what the gardener is aiming for.

snail-smell beer over far distance
Slugs and snails have an excellent scent. They smell beer over a far range.

Slugs shall be able to smell beer over ranges of at least 100 yards (90 meters) and maybe even as far as 200 yards (180 meters)!

The classic beer trap is based on the idea that the baited slugs fall into the beer after drinking the intoxicating liquid and then drown in it.

But that’s not always the case. Often they just take a sip and slide away again.

Is Alcohol Needed for the Traps to Work Properly?

Some people think that it’s sufficient to use malt extract and or sugar to attract the slugs.

Others are convinced that the traps only work because of the toxic effect of the alcohol.

They claim that the alcohol paralyzes the slugs, causing them to fall into the traps and drown.

This leads to the conclusion that stale beer can’t be used, as its alcohol has already evaporated.

However, there is no definite answer to this question yet.

If you have more information regarding this issue, please leave a comment below.

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Application of Beer-Traps

ground beetle-slug predator
Beneficial snail-hunter beetles can also die in the traps.

To attract the snails, small containers filled with beer are placed close to beds and plants which are under threat.

It is possible to use and recycle empty yogurt cups or old cucumber glasses as containers.

These are filled up about half way with beer.

It is also possible to buy special beer traps, which come with a rain cover. This prevents the beer being watered down or overflowing when it rains.

The traps are buried in the ground, preventing them from tipping over. The edge of the trap should always protrude at least 2 inches (5 centimeters) above ground level.

Otherwise, beneficial ground beetles might also fall inside and die.

These insects are natural predators of slugs and snails and are important allies in effectively controlling slugs and snails. (More information here: Resettlement of natural slug predators.)

Beer traps should be checked, emptied and renewed regularly.

slug fence bed
A modern metal slug fence to control slugs.

Sometimes it is recommended to use beer traps in combination with snail fences.

Once a snail fence is set up, all the slugs and snails within the fenced-off area must be regularly collected and removed.

If the area is large, this can be difficult and take a while, because some slugs might also be hiding underground.

Therefore, traps are generally recommended for catching slugs and snails.

However, instead of using beer traps, it is better to use live slug traps.

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Products & Prices

Different plastic models can be bought, which all look more or less the same. But there are also some special models.

Most beer traps are sold in a set because it is necessary to put a lot of them in the garden.

Depending on how many traps you want to buy, the price varies from 1-3 dollars/pounds/euros per trap.

As mentioned, however, I recommend other methods to catch slugs and snails, since beer traps have few benefits and numerous disadvantages which cause considerable problems.

advantages strengths of this slug controlAdvantages

The main advantage of beer traps is their low cost.

Any household that has a spare beer to hand can immediately start to set traps up in the garden.

The effort required is relatively low, and traps can even be homemade.

And of course, your neighbors will also be happy, since you are luring the slugs out of their garden into yours!

Disadvantages weaknesses of this slug controlDisadvantages

Beer traps come with two significant drawbacks:

Too Much Attraction!

One disadvantage is that slugs and snails will be attracted into the garden by the smell of the beer from far away.

Since not all slugs die in the traps, in the end, there might be more pests in the garden than before.

It is believed that only about one-third of the slugs actually fall into the traps and drown in them.

Since slugs are cannibals, they are also attracted by the dead snails in the beer traps.

They Kill the Enemies of Slugs, Too!

hedgehogs need water
Hedgehogs should not drink beer.

Unfortunately, natural predators of the slugs also die in the traps.

These include beneficial predators such as the Limax Maximus (Leopard Slug) and the Roman Snail.

Likewise, ground beetles that hunt snails can drown in the traps.

For hedgehogs, the traps are a feast, but if they eat dead slugs saturated with beer, they can poison themselves with alcohol.

After their hangover has cleared, they may lose their appetite for slugs and snails!

plus minusConclusion

Beer traps are clearly not an effective or sustainable solution for preventing slugs and snails invading your garden.

In fact, they can aggravate the situation even more, since many slugs are attracted from far away by the smell of yeast.

This is why a slug problem cannot be prevented with beer traps.

All attractants are a double-edged sword. This also applies to slug pellets/baits.

Therefore, the use of traps and baits is best avoided.

All these methods lead to the inevitable consequence that more slugs and snails are attracted into the garden.

Therefore, you are ultimately shooting yourself in the salad if you try to use slug baits or beer traps to kill slugs and snails. They may just come back in greater numbers.

“The hunter becomes the hunted!”

Further Methods to Control Slugs and Snails

Copper Against Slugs

Slug barriers

Schnexagon: Slug Deterrent Paint 

Slug Collars

Slug Resistant Flowers

Snail and Slug Resistant Vegetables

Peaceful Slug Control & Plant Protection

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Last update: April 3,  2021

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Alexander Boeckmann

Gardening in harmony with nature.

11 thoughts to “Beer Traps for Slugs and Snails: Don’t Do It! | Experiences & Alternatives”

  1. I was glad to know that beer is too much of an attraction- I was just about to set a whole bunch of beer traps! I have used ammonia and water in a spray bottle, that is fairly effective- however, I don’t have a huge garden (and no vegetables) so, not sure if it would be practical in this case. I never had slugs or snails until I brought in a new batch of bark mulch- and have been plagued ever since. Not so badly this year, as it has been dry until a few days ago and then- bingo! There they are again. I’m going back to my ammonia and water program- along with hand picking for now- and also setting up some moist newspaper under clay pots to try to get them under control. I hate using chemicals but will resort to it in some sort of soil application- next spring- if they don’t get under control with my current methods. The ammonia in a 1-10 ratio (1 part ammonia to 10 parts water) sprayed directly on the slugs or snails- kills them and turns to nitrogen which apparently the plants can use just fine in that form. Kind of smelly- don’t want to do it in the wind obviously- but the smell dissipates quickly.

  2. Excellent article. I won’t be using beer traps. I’ll just move my potted hostas every couple of days & check underneath & around the rims…I am fortunate to have hedgehogs who patrol my garden planted hostas. I would never have thought that I would be attracting more slugs with beer traps let alone poisoning my hedgehogs!

  3. Hi there, my name is SImon BSc(Hons) Horticulture and I am a master gardener. I use two lots of beer traps in two separate gardens. One backs onto the scrub of a golf course while the other backs onto a farmers field. They are only used on beds containing hostas and since using the beer traps there has been no slug damage whatsoever. It is a truly amazing control system. The owners of both properties are only home periodically and so a management solution was required that would last a week or two at a time which is why the pellets were not doing the job. This argument of drawing even more slugs to the hosta beds holds no water in my experience as I have never seen anything else work so effectively. If you don’t think they will work for you then all I can say is that the proof is in the pudding.

    1. Hi Simon, thank you for your comment.
      I guess every situation is different.

      Yes, beer traps are famous.
      Yes, you catch slugs with them.
      Yes, slugs are attracted to beer more than to hostas.
      This is why you also attract slugs from the neighborhood into your garden.
      And you kill beneficial animals in them – including snail hunter beetles and beneficial snails.
      You harm the biodiversity in their gardens.
      The traps need to be set, emptied and cleaned again and again – time-consuming.
      Hence, beer traps aren’t a sustainable solution.
      And they take the joy out of gardening.

      Please enjoy your garden and have a look here:
      There are many alternatives to control slugs.
      And there are many alternatives to hostas 🙂
      May the flowers in your garden bloom beautifully!

  4. Note that alcohol free beer also works in a beer trap (we weren’t sure what else to do with it?). That at least removes that risk to hedgehogs.

  5. Beer trap has worked and is helping my garden considerably. As a man of science I want to point out that alcohol dries much like rice or salt yet have not tried salt water but if the alcohol is not the luring agent but the yeast it might work wit just water maybe carbonated with some salt and then topped last with some yeast… The salt would then kill the slugs as they try to drink the yeast water not knowing it has salt in it…

    1. Salt kills yeast too. Small amounts you can get away with as the yeast and sugar does its work in fermenting the salt will slow it down. Too much will kill it. So perhaps there would not be enough salt to kill the slugs.

  6. Hi, I have a problem with slugs – not in the garden but in the kitchen. I have searched everywhere for the access point but can find nothing. I have been told slugs like dishwashers, is that right?
    Every morning I have slimy trails on the kitchen carpet. I tried unsuccessfully beer traps. I have bleached the walls under the kitchen cupboards but still have slugs. Any suggestions please ?

  7. Hey Jim, do you have inside pets like cats or dogs that roam around? If you do then this is to dangerous to them but it you don’t them just place a barrier of table salt around the kitchen or sprinkle salt around the kitchen floor or areas you find the slug trails. Salt is extremely damaging to slugs. Of course too much salt can kill or harm cats or dogs if they eat it so I don’t reccommend using it if you have a cat or a dog unless the kitchen has a door to keep your pets out. Salt isn’t good to use near plants because it can damage them as well but inside your home if you don’t have roaming pets then salt is very effective, inexpensive, and easy to use against slugs. When I was a little girl my parents told me that salt kills slugs, I was curious so I sprinkled just a tiny bit of salt on a slug and it recoiled immediately, I poured a bunch on them and they started melting. I remember finding it scary like a horror movie. I truthfully feel bad about what it does to them but if they are being a hard to catch menace it is very effective, if I find slugs in the garden these days I give them a quick death instead of a slow salt death.

    1. Dear Caroline,

      thank you very much for the question.
      Beer and dead snails attract many more snails.
      Therefore, it is best to give them a proper burial – deep in the ground.
      May you be happy and find better ways to deal with slugs and snails in the future!


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