Introduction: Slug Trap From Recycled Water Bottles

Picture of Slug Trap From Recycled Water Bottles

This is a beer-baited slug trap made from two empty drinking water bottles. It introduces no harmful chemicals into the garden and does not harm the local wildlife (apart from the slugs). It also re-purposes items which would normally have been thrown away. Using green bottles makes it merge well into the foliage. Altogether, a green idea.

The first one was made in the space of 5 minutes last week. I have had slugs eating my plants, and a work colleague mentioned the same thing just as I was pouring fizzy water from a bottle. It was one of those 'eureka' moments. I had several of the bottles in my cupboard which would 'come in handy one day', and that was the day! 5 minutes later using only office equipment, I had the first slug trap built.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

As I said earlier, this was knocked up in 5 minutes in the office.

You will need two water bottles for each trap. Use the ones with the base moulded into 4 sections (see picture). You could use the 5 but they would be trickier to cut and merge.

The tools you need are stapler, marker pen, measure, scissors.

Also, you'll be needing BEER for bait . . . see later.

Step 2: Measuring and Cutting

Picture of Measuring and Cutting

Mark a line three inches (75 mm) from the base of the bottle. If you leave the label on you can use it as a cutting guide. If your bottles are identical you don't even need to mark - just follow the label around. Draw down to the ridge around the indentations about 1" (25mm) up from the base. Do this in the 4 places.

Cut around the bottle, and then down to the bottom ridge. Then cut across in two places to give the shape shown in the third picture.

Step 3: Putting It Together

Picture of Putting It Together

Now you have two identical halves, slot them together to give a 'window' in either side.
Use the stapler to clip them together. Two staples through each side makes it good and solid.
Make them as low as possible, but the limiting factor is the width of the stapler.

Once you've made one, make some more!

Step 4: Setting the Trap

Picture of Setting the Trap

The bait for the trap is BEER. Slugs can't resist it and will slime their way into it, drink, and eventually asphyxiate (but what a way to go!).

Put the traps down, push them into the soil a bit and bait them with beer. Don't worry about slugs not getting up the side - they are born with commando training and will find their way anywhere. Weight the traps down with a stone.

Notes on beer.
Beer is anything from the lightest golden brown, through amber (possibly with a reddish tinge) to dark, dark, dark brown, and when a sip is taken it should overwhelm the senses with the aroma of hops and malt. It should conjure up visions of drying sheds, malt shovelling and barley fields rippling in the summer breeze.
Beer is not a thin insipid beverage which looks roughly the same leaving the body as it did when it entered it. Some breweries have a problem realising this.

It seems the darker the brew, the more the slugs appreciate it. It's probably the malt which attracts them. I unearthed a bottle of 'BLACK NASTY' in the loft - a homebrew which knows nothing of 'best before' dates - this was past it's prime from day one! but the slugs seem to relish it.
However, they don't object to the cheapest supermarket product either, so if you're not normally a beer-drinker, just buy one bottle or can.

Once the traps have been down a while, recycle the contents onto the compost heap and refill the traps. Let the little blighters do us some good for once.

WARNING - Under no circumstances smell this after it's been down a couple of days. I accidentally got a whiff and spent the next couple of minutes trying desperately to keep my lunch down. I was so overcome that I forgot to take photos of the body-count :- From three traps after two days - 2 large, 5 middling and 4 small slugs.

Not total wipeout yet, but I feel now that I'm doing something to redress the balance and stop the devastation of my plants.

Step 5: Garden Views

Picture of Garden Views

Here's a few more pictures of the garden.
No real reason, just because it's looking good at the moment.


rwood10 (author)2017-07-29

Thanks I saw similar traps in the UK. I was trying to figure how to do it. You got it perfectly. Thank you

pcooper2 (author)2016-11-03

Most commercial baits use a chemical called metaldehyde to kill the slugs and snails. It breaks down into harmless components and does not poison the soil and environment. Although the baits are rather overpriced for what they do, if you can procure a supply of metaldehyde, a white powder in pure form, a small amount will go a long way and is quite economical, even compared to cheap beer.

JohnS1030 (author)2016-08-16

You mean knocked off in the office not "knocked up" I hope. ;-)

AndyGadget (author)JohnS10302016-09-03

Hehe. In the UK, 'knocked up' can mean either to construct or to get pregnant; the context usually shows which usage you mean. 'Knocked off' over here means stolen.

(Two nations separated by a common language #;¬)

JohnS1030 (author)AndyGadget2016-09-05

Also on this side of the pond "knock off" can mean a cheap copy or to quit as in "I knocked off work early today." English is a terrible language to try to learn, but not as bad as Chinese where with the wrong inflection you could be calling your Ma a horse

KrisP32 (author)2016-06-30

Thank you soooo much! I'm off to collect the materials needed right now! This looks like a brilliant idea and I cant wait to get rid of these tomato killers! I'll get back to you as soon as I see the results.

Mindmapper1 (author)2016-06-25

yes this idea does work but why are you pictures of snails not slugs?

AndyGadget (author)Mindmapper12016-06-28

Look at the caption on the image ;¬)

Alisona (author)2016-06-01

Brilliant solution, am about to try it out. Enjoyed the other comments too. As for the salt idea...not a happy picture to dwell on.

jayz43 (author)2014-03-24

I have used your method with success. I have also tweaked it. Using
an inexpensive quick point snap off knife and a 12 oz disposable
plastic water bottle I make two vertical 1” incisions about an 1 ½”
apart and beginning approx. 2” from the bottom of the bottle. I
then make a horizontal incision that extends to the center of both
vertical cuts. The top half is folded outward as an awning and
protection from watering and rain from above and the bottom half I
fold inward to smooth the slugs entry. I repeated it on the other
side of the bottle. I fill the bottle with 1 ½” of beer and drop a
pinch of yeast in from the top for more potency. I bury the bottles
up to the opening.

andy007 (author)2014-03-21

I blame the french for all these snails!

AndyGadget (author)andy0072014-03-21

Near me the Romans were to blame for the big white ones in the Cotswolds and they are a protected species which you need a license to handle. Luckily for them, they don't tend to inhabit gardens.

(What have the Romans ever done for us . . . #;¬)

Eleyan (author)2014-03-14

A lot of good ideas swimming around here. Thank you for your contributions. In Australia mainly in Queensland and possibly now in Far north NSW the snails/slugs carry a parasitic infection that can cause brain disease. Another reason to keep them under control.

captain Jack (author)2010-11-16

Beer is indeed the killer, yet all natural ingredient.
If you have them lying around, baby jars are actually perfect for this.
I've done this a number of times with great success.
Just fill a baby jar with 1/3 beer, and leave it sitting out near any plant/s you want to protect.
A week later, the thing will be filled with slugs. DEAD ones.
Then, simply screw the lid back on the jar and toss in the trash. NO work involved at all! Those glutinous slugs have only their beer-boozing ways to blame....

OR... empty the jar down the drain and RECYCLE it! ;-)

finton (author)I am in the shed!2013-06-02

Or empty the jar in the compost bin and recycle the slugs and beer too.

foobear (author)2013-04-07

Oh my what an adorable garden and little cottage. England really is a beautiful place, although I haven't been there yet. We have similar weather to yours, I think, here in Washington State. We also have big fat slugs that eat anything you can plant, so I have been leaving bowls of beer all over the place, and they never fail to have at least one or two slugs, usually babies though. Another trick I learned about is to take ashes from the woodstove and create a barrier around the garden, slugs won't cross the pile of ashes. Still testing that one out.

stringstretcher (author)2012-10-20

I counted slugs in my beer trap once before I went to bed... there were 5 of them having a drink. Next morning only 3! I decided I would keep the beer for myself, lol. Mine was not a one way trap like these. I'll have to try this next season. We have a plethora of LARGE slugs here in Sunny Sweden (that's funny if you live here)

Mmmmmm . . . Slug beer! (See my warning in step 4  #;¬)

We have the large brown slugs with the orange 'skirt' as well, although these seem less attracted by the beer.  I once let one of these slither around my hand to show my young sons and it took a couple of days before the feel of the slime went away, no matter what I scrubbed it with.  I don't know what's in that stuff but it's an amazingly adhesive lubricant. 

(I assume 'Sunny Sweden' is similar to the 'barbeque summers' which have been forecast here in the UK, and the 'Mediterranean gardens' we were supposed to be designing to cope with the prediction of scorchingly hot summers.)

I have a plan to convert these slimy creatures into bio fuels... I like to joke and say that I have already partly succeeded, and can drive my car on it, but it goes REALLY slow and leaves a trail of carnage in the form of wrecked cars and trucks who have skidded off the road on my slime trail. I'm looking to win the Nobel Prize for this someday. Don't laugh!

I run my car on BP.   The trouble is finding enough bees to keep it going.

farmerboyk (author)2012-10-14

Uh..isn't that a snail in the first picture? :P

farmerboyk (author)farmerboyk2012-10-14

Oh, didn't read the note.

AndyGadget (author)farmerboyk2012-10-16

You saw the note.
I wanted to use a picture I'd taken rather than one gleaned from the web and I happened to have one of this rather pretty snail (as snails go #;¬)

farmerboyk (author)AndyGadget2012-10-16

Haha yeah it is a nice looking snail :P

AndyPipkin (author)2012-08-28

The smell of beer can attract slugs from quite a long way, over 200 feet!, you'll get slugs from other gardens unless yours is pretty big.

coryclarke (author)2011-09-19

These worked great on my garden. Slugs were eating up my cabbage and kale. A few slug traps all around and the problem was fixed. I found I didn't need to do anything as complicated as carving up soda bottle, we just used old yogurt containers pushed into the ground up to their lips.

capricorn (author)2011-05-12

The 'ible is very good mate, thanks for sharing and while we are here:

"Beer is anything from the lightest golden brown, through amber (possibly with a reddish tinge) to dark, dark, dark brown, and when a sip is taken it should overwhelm the senses with the aroma of hops and malt. It should conjure up visions of drying sheds, malt shovelling and barley fields rippling in the summer breeze.
Beer is not a thin insipid beverage which looks roughly the same leaving the body as it did when it entered it. Some breweries have a problem realising this

For this poetry alone, my friend, if you ever drop in Brussels make a sign and you'll be rewarded. You'll love Belgian's finest :D

AndyGadget (author)capricorn2011-05-13

Mmmm . . . .   A bottle of Chimay Bleue on a cold winter's night - Wonderful.
Thanks for the nice words.

smayhew (author)2011-05-11

ha ha! so was my wife. (just kidding, babe)

yogadavid (author)2011-05-05

nice Garden. A lot of work there, you must be very pleased.

andytick (author)2011-01-10

I would like to ask if anyone has ever heard of using tinned fish, (sardines, tuna etc) mixed with slug pellets to attract and kill slug?
I ask because 4 of my cats have recently been killed this way

AndyGadget (author)andytick2011-01-11

(I replied yesterday but it looks like the filters rejected my name for someone who deliberately poisons animals.)

I've never heard of slugs being attracted by fish.  They prefer vegetable matter. 
The only other site I can think of is the 'vets and pets' section of the Motley Fool. I use the UK version, but it's in the US too.  You'd probably have to register to post a question about this. 

andytick (author)2011-01-10

I would also like to ask if anyone knows of any other sites where a free blog can be posted to ask the same question. Tnx

SpiroExDeus (author)2009-07-19

If I'm NOT a beer drinker, use the cheap beer?! Why would I waste a decent premium real ale on a slug? Let them die in Budweiser. They deserve it. :D

AndyGadget (author)SpiroExDeus2009-07-19

Come on now, have a heart.
Kill them by all means but don't make them drink that stuff!

SpiroExDeus (author)AndyGadget2009-07-19

Maybe I'm still bitter (no pun intended) from the time when I came home to proudly inspect my pumpkin plant (that had survived having one of it's 2 leaves broken off) to find a fat, smug, slug in the middle of what used to be the only means of photosynthesis for my plant. THAT time I took my revenge with salt. It wasn't pretty (no seriously, it wasn't. They kind of 'slow explode' into a gooey bubbly mush) In fact even Budweiser's too good for them. Maybe one of those cheap mass-produced Polish lagers that are one step away from antifreeze....

BluTiger (author)SpiroExDeus2010-09-20

I just had a visual on that I wont be able to sleep to night...


AndyGadget (author)SpiroExDeus2009-07-19

I haven't tried the Polish lagers yet, but on your recommendation . . . I won't bother. My peppers and squashes were devastated this year and you can see the Russian kale above. I put them out before I'd started doing anything about the slugs. Next year I'm going to start killing slugs before I try to plant anything out. I can just imagine the little bu66ers lying in wait for the first whiff of a tasty seedling. Also, I've a project in mind which wouldn't have been ready for this year's competition, but look out for "The Slug-Proof Electric Fence to protect those real slug favourites. Sound daft, but I think I can pull it off.

mortso (author)SpiroExDeus2010-04-09

 AAA+++ true true! agreed. 

treesneedtobehugged (author)2010-06-27

WHen they done drowning in whatever beer you guys think is worst you could feed them to fish if you have a fish pond or use the large ones as fish bait

awang8 (author)2009-07-23

I prefer to just put a ring of the spikiest mulch I can get around my plants. OK, so it doesn't kill them, but it stops them getting to your plants. Salting is a really disgusting way of killing them. They kind of... Well... Blow up without the explosion, and turn into a slimy sub-atomic gloop.

twocvbloke (author)2009-07-15

Waste of good beer, but still the best way to get rid of the blighters!!!

AndyGadget (author)twocvbloke2009-07-15

BLACK NASTY was not good beer, but I know what you mean ;¬)

treesneedtobehugged (author)2009-07-15

You can also make a beer slug trap from a pot saucer. Also VOTE FOR HOW TO MAKE A SEED BOMB

Scammah (author)2009-07-14

Great idea. I have been meaning to do this for quite some time.

Atomman (author)2009-07-14

Wow, you do Great photography!

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