Take a Snail out with a Beer

Family of snails getting ready to snack on my garden

If you grow lettuce or other greens, you may have noticed that your leaves have been nibbled. You may even have caught the culprits on your plants. Snails and slugs love leaves.

What do you do?

Salt them? NO! Salt will certainly make them shrivel up and die, but it won’t help your soil.

Poison them? NO! Some slug bait will harm the creatures you want in your garden as well as those you don’t.

Remove the mulch where they like to hide? NO! That mulch helps deter weeds and keep soil moist naturally.


Take the snails (and slugs) out for a beer

Make your own beer traps. Early one evening, divert yogurt cups or jar lids from the recycling, dig a spot in your garden where the container edge will be just about level with the ground, and bury your traps. Then, add beer. (My husband says you should buy cheap beer on sale for this, but the slugs actually prefer rich, yeasty beer.)

In the morning, empty your traps. That evening, repeat. You should get fewer slugs or snails every evening.

Once you have managed to get the numbers down, you can use some of the alternatives below to deter more slimy creates from moving back in to your garden.


Alternatives to Beer Traps for Slugs

Make it SWEET with yeast or sugar water. The slugs and snails are attracted to the yeast. You can give it to them without beer.

Make it SPIKY with lava rock or egg shells. Snails and slugs do not want to ooze over anything quite this abrasive, so create a barrier around your plants.

Make it FLUFFY with hair. If you groom your own dog, just arrange the hair around the plants you want to protect. This method has to be renewed after rain. Don’t bother removing the hair, since hair will decompose and makes a good addition to compost.

Make it DRY by watering early in the morning. Slugs and snails come out at night, but they like damp areas. If you water in the morning, you create a (slightly) less hospitable environment for them.


But, I Don’t Kill Our Snails

When I lived in an area where I had slugs rather than snails, I used beer traps. I was growing food, and slugs were killing everything faster than it could grow. Now, I have snails—a lot of snails in all sizes. They don’t kill so many plants, and they don’t hang out where I grow food, so I let them eat the leaves of my flowers and a bush that I’ve just been looking for an excuse to replace anyway. I’m not really out for revenge on all of the slimy population, and I find them fascinating. They don’t hurt me or anything I’m protecting, so I leave them alone and make the whole family carefully step around them at night.

The snails in the photo above are still alive and well in our flower garden, snacking on Iris leaves. I can see the holes in the leaves out the window from where I sit (meaning, they are significantly large holes), but I still leave them alone.

Wimp? Maybe. Live and let slime.

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