I have heard nothing but good things about the effectiveness of beer traps to control slugs and snails in the garden but what if, like me, you’re a teetotaller? Will yeast work as well as beer? Will plain water lure any snails or slugs and what about using stout? I’ve tested four different baits in four different traps and run this experiment three times in different parts of the garden to see what snails and slugs prefer to order at the bar.
I bought four cylindrical, plastic containers, you can use old jars or plastic containers but, for the sake of the experiment, I wanted all my containers to be exactly the same so the only difference between the traps would be the liquid used.
I think it’s a good idea to use deep containers that are only half to three quarters filled so the snails and slugs find it harder to climb out. I was also told by a fellow gardener that spraying the inside of your traps with oil can improve results.
Bury the container in the soil, ensuring the lip is sitting slightly proud of soil level.
I half filled one container with plain water, one with beer, one with stout (Guinness) and one with a mixture of yeast, water and honey.
For the yeast trap I added one 7g sachet of dried yeast to water along with a spoon full of honey and mixed well.
It’s a good idea to cover your traps to keep out the rain but make sure that your slugs and snails still have access. I used some old plastic containers, I cut large holes into the sides and placed them over my traps, securing them into the soil with bent wire so they wouldn’t get blown away by the wind.
As my covering containers were clear plastic I opted to cover the whole lot with an old board to create a nice dark environment to further lure in the slimy suckers.
Each of the three times that I ran this experiment, I left the traps in the garden for a fortnight.
At the end of each experiment, I tipped the contents of each container into my garden-soil sieve to accurately gauge the critters in each one.
In this first experiment I tested the effectiveness of a beer trap against a yeast and water trap.
Beer – 20 slugs, 0 snails, 1 earwig = total 21
Yeast – 4 slugs, 0 snails, 1 earwig = total 5
In this experiment I added a bit of vegemite to the honey and yeast mixture.
Beer – 0 slugs, 3 snails = total 3
Yeast – 0 slugs, 0 snails = total 0
Water – 0 slugs, 2 snails = total 2
Stout – 8 slugs, 5 snails, 2 wasps = total 15
Beer – 1 slug, 0 snails, lots of earwigs = total 1
Yeast – 1 slug, 1 snail, lots of earwigs = total 2
Water – 0 slugs, 1 snail = total 1
Stout – 0 slugs, 4 snails, double the amount of earwigs as the other traps = total 4+
My slug and snail traps seem to work beautifully as earwig traps.
It’s difficult to know how effective these traps are because I don’t know how many snails and slugs were loitering around my garden at the time. I think in the second and third experiments, I had less slugs around so found less slugs in my traps.
Stout seems the most effective.
I think that opting for the least expensive beer is probably the best option, stout seems to work quite well but is often a bit more expensive.
Yeast isn’t completely useless as a bait, but then even plain water seemed to trap a few snails.
If you get really desperate, like I sometimes do, and want to use snail and slug pellets, opt for the iron based snail and slug pellets, they’re safer for the environment and other animals.
We have descended into the garden and caught three hundred slugs. How I love the mixture of the beautiful and the squalid in gardening. It makes it so lifelike. - Evelyn Underhill, Letters