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

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

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

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

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

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



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    49 Discussions


    8 months ago on Step 5

    I have recently started using beer traps. Nothing fancy, just beer in small containers. I was a little doubtful at first but for any sceptics I can confirm that they really do work. Over a period of 2-3 weeks I have caught approx. 300 slugs. Yes 300! including a number of huge spanish "Thug Slugs" If you have a slug problem and don't like slug pellets do give beer a try at least the little devils die happy!

    Jo Roman

    Question 1 year ago on Step 3

    This is a nice design & I think I'll try it for this summer's crop of slugs. However, you mention creating a window, but I'm unable to see a window in the one's you made and the directions don't tell you how to do that. I can tell by the photos how they fit together, but if you've accurately cut both bottles so they fit together when assembled, there would be no opening for slugs to enter. Please advise. Thank you.


    1 year ago

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


    2 years ago

    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.


    2 years ago

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

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    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 #;¬)


    Reply 2 years ago

    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


    2 years ago

    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.


    2 years ago

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

    1 reply

    2 years ago

    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.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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 . . . #;¬)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    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

    8 years ago on Step 4

    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....

    2 replies

    5 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    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)