Beer traps have long been used for slug control but there is another way to trap them that doesn’t involve you sharing your precious brews (because, really, why should slugs get the good stuff?). Try this very basic yeast trap instead:
1 cup water
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dry yeast
Throw everything into a jar and mix it together. (You can double or triple this recipe if you are attending Slimapalooza and require lots of bait. It’s best to mix up a fresh batch each time you need it).
Raid your recycling bin for some shallow containers and sink whatever you scrounge up into your garden bed so that the tops of the containers are level with the surface of the soil. In effect, you’re creating a drop of doom/swimming pool sort of scenario. Pour the bait mixture into the containers so that they are about 3/4 full. Then go crack that beer and enjoy the rest of your evening. Slugs come out at night so check your traps the next morning and dispose of the contents in the garbage.
What are your tried-and-true methods to combat slugs?
UPDATE (25 June 2022): I’ve had a comment (see below) expressing concern that there is a possiblity of also catching beneficial insects such as ground beetles with this trap and a suggestion to make alterations to the set-up. You can definitely try the suggestion given in the comments, but ground beetles are effective crawlers/climbers and I would expect them to be able to bypass the solution. If you are worried, you could float a dry leaf or a small twig in the saucer to give the beetles something to climb onto until you rescue them the next morning.
What I should have done when I wrote this post: prefaced it with two pieces of information. #1: Handpicking (manual removal) of pests such as slugs would always be the top solution over trapping, as there are no questions of identification and no other creatures would be inadvertently harmed. #2: These traps are not meant to be set out for days, weeks, or months on end – you will put them out for one or two days to control the slug population, then remove them.
When deciding whether or not to use any methods of control for pests, you must consider whether your entire crop will be affected to the point where you will reap no benefits from it. If only a few leaves or other plant parts are affected, don’t do anything. If the damage is primarily cosmetic, don’t take any action – it’s not necessary. We need to consider the ecosystem and all of the interacting creatures within it first and foremost. Slugs need to eat, too – and in turn, they are food for birds and other creatures. The reason I put up this post was because I have been asked hundreds of times about slug control – and the gardeners who want to use it aren’t willing to go out and pick the slugs off of their plants … they want another option to deal with them.