Slugtoberfest: beer traps for slugs

It’s getting to be mid-October here in zone 5b, and where our first average frost date is October 1, the garden is winding down. But the nice weather we’ve been having and the fact that there hasn’t been a frost yet means that a number of summer garden plants haven’t gotten the memo.

Know who else hasn’t gotten the memo? The slugs. This was a very bad year for slugs (or a very good year, if you are a slug). They went after my sweet peppers and the ground cherries, and there were several loitering around in my cabbage this week.

Even though things are mostly over, it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to get some more beer traps in place and cull the herd a bit. Because slugs and slug eggs overwinter just fine if they’re in a highly insulated environment that doesn’t go below freezing. Once I prep the beds for winter, that’s exactly what I’ll be creating for the benefit of the worms. So I’m officially declaring Slugtoberfest!

Day 1: Setting the Traps

Day 2: First Tally

In the morning, I went out to check the traps, and each has 6-12 slugs in it. That adds up, but it’s not as many as I expected. And they were all little ones. I know for a fact that there are really big slugs out there. Hoping for better on day 3.

Unfortunately, there were also a total of 5 dead wasps in the traps. Less unfortunate, were the pill bugs, an earwig or two, and one mosquito also taking beer bath dirt naps. I would have nothing against pill bugs and earwigs, except it’s rumored that they take out seedlings and I did have a lot of trouble with that this year, especially the okra seedlings in my in-ground bed.

Day 3

As of noon on day 3, all traps have at least a few slugs in them. The single trap in the side garden bed had 2 big guys in there, too.

I know I could put down Sluggo or some other slug poison, but I got through the entire year without using any pesticides and I’m not going to start now. Besides, Slugtoberfest is more fun to say than, “I put down slug poison.” Next year I’ll be trying copper strips and see how those work to deter the slugs, but if they’re already in the bed, I don’t see it helping much. I’ll probably just start using beer traps more often, because they work, and they don’t do much harm to other more beneficial garden critters.

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