A effective remedy against slugs is to set up special traps.
Instead of picking them up one by one it is possible to set up traps in which snails and slugs can be caught alive.
Capturing, collecting and relocating the animals is a cheap and non-violent way to take care of snails and slugs.
Catch the slug!
If slugs and snails destroy the garden, one of the easiest ways is to catch them and to set them free in a safe distance.
The traps have one big advantage: time-consuming handpicking becomes unnecessary. They make it possible to just collect the pests in groups during the day.
Thus, to go out late at night to do “slug-watch” will not be necessary anymore.
What to consider setting up slug traps, is further explained here.
Why are baits like beer or yeast a danger?
Please stay away from beer traps, yeast and any other strong baits!
Many people suffered a great deal after using beer or yeast to attract and kill slugs.
Because strong baits not only attract the pests from around your garden but from all neighbor gardens, too.
Be aware that beer and yeast shall be able to attract them over a distance up to 200 yards (meters) – maybe even from farther.
Because of this and also because not all slugs will die from the alcohol or drown in the beer, as a result you end up with more slugs in your garden than before.
Some people believe it would be possible to use wine, but it is the yeast in the beer that attracts them.
In wine there is no yeast as in beer. Hence wine is no option as a bait.
If you hear about the troubles with these traps for the first time and have already tried them, now you know, why the method was not working well.
There are other reasons why beer traps are not a good way to control the slug population.
More information here: beer traps – risks and dangers
Which baits are safe to attract slugs?
The best way is to catch the slugs and snails with a weak natural attractant.
These natural baits include dead plant parts. You could use these: plants that slugs love.
Since many slugs as the Spanish slug have a similar taste as humans, one can also take vegetable leftovers from the kitchen.
Also old salad leaves, cucumber or squash parts are a safe way to attract the slugs.
Please do not use cooked and spiced foods, otherwise you could attract rats!
Also good baits are soaked oatmeal and porridge.
Melon and orange peel with some fruit leftovers inside are another attractive for slugs.
In general you could observe what preferences your slugs and snails have.
If you use several traps in your garden, it is easy to study the attractiveness of different baits.
What types of snail and slug traps are there?
In principle there are three ways to capture slugs:
1. Live traps: These are traps which slugs and snails can only enter into, but not leave on their own.
In contrast to beer traps, in which the snails could die, these traps just capture them.
2. The second option is to create places where the snails like to hide during the day.
Then you can collect them there in the evening before they come out.
3. Finally it is possible to create a bed in the garden with many plants that are loved by slugs. Then they will gether there and can easily be picked up.
To create attractive places or beds is a simple and often very effective measure.
How should slug attractant places look like?
A good example for a place that slugs like is of course the compost.
As a gardener you probably know, slugs and snails like to hang out there, because it is build by one of their favorite food sources: dead plant remains.
In addition, one finds slugs and snails often under flowerpots or buckets which are made of clay or plastic.
Underneath they like to hide during the day, because it is wet and dark – two conditions they prefer.
Because there they are safe from predators – like birds – and they can not dry out.
Therefore, it is easy to create these conditions in various places around the garden and to collect the slugs there before nighttime.
Then it becomes unnecessary to search them in the dark or in the early morning.
To create these sort of slug traps, they should have these four characteristics:
- cool and not to hot
- available remains of plants
If you put these four conditions together, you have created a place where slugs like to spend a day.
For this purpose suitable are:
Old roof tiles
These spots should be as dark as possible and provide enough room for the slugs to slip underneath.
Next to it, on top, or beneath the hiding place you can put a natural attractant as described above. Also weeded out plants could become useful in this way.
Then all you need is some patience and soon the first snails will arrive.
In the late afternoon or early evening before they would come out they can be collected and relocated – at least 1 mile / km away.
These trapping points you could place in strategic areas around the garden beds.
How to use life traps?
Live traps (non-deadly traps) are a possible alternative and easy to use.
But they can become dangerous if they are misused:
On the one hand, they could be filled with strong attractants and on the other, they could be forgotten and then fill themselves with strong attractants – namely dead slugs.
Because if captured slugs die inside the trap they will create a smell that attracts conspecifics magically over far distances – you should know that slugs are cannibals.
Hence I recommend to check the traps on a daily basis.
If baits are used it is always a danger that they could attract even more pests into the garden.
Thus it is important to use a mean that attracts them only from the direct surrounding area.
As mentioned oatmeal, salad leaves or maybe strawberries are a good choice.
Strong attractants could only be used to lure the slugs out of the garden.
For example if the garden is next to a forest or a meadow, one could place some yeast there and in this way invite the pests to leave.
The advantage of live traps is that they also work during the night.
The natural attraction points are not safe at night and the slugs can leave when they feel like it.
The beauty of trapping is that by doing so you save yourself a lot of time and work.
The danger is that you could take damage yourself: Harm set – harm get!
But if one knows about the dangers of using baits, one can avoid them and learn a more mindful way of trapping snails.
You can do it yourself with simple means and with proper use you do not have to fear any unwanted side effects.
The slug population can be reduced and you do not waste time to search the slugs, which could otherwise be tedious and time consuming.
Snails which do not show themselves during the day could be caught with live traps.
As a result, the pests slowly but surely are decreasing and a population boom can be prevented or reduced.
Products and offers
According to my knowledge, until now there are two different types of life traps.
One from a German manufacturer and one from a Swiss inventor.
Both traps provide a mechanism that is supposed to let snails inside but not outside anymore.
I have not tested the traps yet, but I plan to do that soon.
If ordered on Amazon, you could send them back without any problems, if they are not working fine.
The German trap comes in a set of two for under ten dollar / pounds / euros.
It is designed in a simple way and maybe you can easily rebuild it with suitable materials.
This trap unfortunately has no rain protection. During rainy seasons this leads to the danger that it can fill up with water and become ineffective.
The trap from Switzerland is built rainproof and has the name “PeSchwi”.
It is a lot bigger than the German trap and is delivered with an attractant, which seems to be very strong, as the following video shows.
— video — (soon)
The reviews on Amazon for this trap are, however, ambivalent.
Therefore, I recommend precaution, because the bait could be too strong.
Hence, it seems better to try oatmeal and similar attractants first. Only if that does not work the provided baits could be used.
In general it is important to attract the enemies of slugs and snails.
Copper can be used to build repelling barriers: Copper against slugs
To protect larger areas special fences are an effective way: slug fences (soon)
Gardeners with low budget find here some DIY ideas: Self made slug control