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Luring and trapping slugs and snails

Can't stand slugs and snails nibbling on your plants? Then you can trap them. You'll find ideas for lures and traps on this page.
Twee naaktslakken onder de paksoi plantjes

Catch them in the act early

As soon as you notice that your vegetables are being eaten, start looking for the culprits. If you don't, soon there won't be much left of your plants.

Slugs eat half of their body weight every day. That's a lot of leaves.

Snails are easier to spot than slugs.
Snails are easier to find than slugs

Baits and lures

You'll then want to lure them to a place where you can trap or catch them. 

So you'll need some super tasty bait.

Let's start with a familiar one:

Beer traps

Slugs love beer. Almost as much as me 😉

I've heard from a lot of readers that beer traps really do help.

You can make them yourself from old yogurt containers. You just need the yogurt cup, the lid, and some scissors.
My DIY beer trap
Cut a couple of small holes about 4 cm from the bottom of the cup. The holes should be big enough for the slugs to crawl through. Add just enough beer so it doesn't spill out of the holes. Then press the cup into your soil mix. Pick a place where you've had trouble with slugs.

If all goes according to plan, every morning you'll find dead slugs in the cup. Yup, that's how it works.

Decoy cabbage

You also can use certain plants as bait. Like Chinese cabbage - that's a slug and snail favorite. 
A cabbage plant devoured by snails, next to untouched lettuce
Snails will turn this plant into Swiss cheese and leave your other plants alone.

At least, as long as the cabbage is still young. Once the plant is old and tough or starts to flower, the slugs and snails will switch to your lettuces.

Other plants that attract slugs and snails? Carnations, dahlias, and hostas. But sacrificing those beauties is kind of a waste, isn't it?

Galia melon (or other fruit)

Maura sent me this tip:

"I put a Galia melon rind in the garden after I'd eaten the rest. You don't even want to know how many slugs I found! Every day I collected them, moved them far from my garden, and then I put the melon back. They ate every bit of it until only the very outer shell remained.”

So, I put half a melon rind near one of my plants that kept getting eaten.
Slakkenvanger van meloenschil
Slug-catching melon rind
Sure enough, I found whole families of slugs and snails under it. Plus a lot of little ones that you'd never spot otherwise. 

If you're not a melon fan, you can also use halved oranges or grapefruits. Even banana peels work.

Wet newspaper is another option, or a rhubarb leaf: anything they can easily hide under and that you can easily pick them off of.
See the bottom right corner of the to-go container? There's a big snail. So, yeah, it worked. 

But. Unfortunately, the container was next to my bok choi. The snail had no problem eating both. I guess the breadcrumbs were just an appetizer.

Cornmeal? Works even better

Slugs and snails like cornmeal even more than breadcrumbs or beer: you'll attract tons of them.

They eat their fill and then leave your plants alone for a while.
Cornmeal is as good as any bait
Cornmeal is used as chicken feed, so you can probably find it at a pet store for a good price. At my local pet shop, I got 5 kilos for 4 euros.

Put the dish in a different place every day. After 3 days or so you'll catch most of them.

The downside to baiting slugs and snails

The downside to all these lures and traps is that you have to pick up the critters yourself every time. And then what do you do with them?

If you don't want to kill them - even though organic gardeners say that's the best thing to do - then you have to take them somewhere else. 

And you need to pick a place at least 30 meters away from your garden. Otherwise, they'll happily come back the next day.

Create a barrier

Of course, it's even better if slugs and snails can't anywhere near your vegetables. You can set up a barrier that keeps them out of your garden boxes.

I found and tested a few: some work better than others: 

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