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Snails in Beer

November 4, 2009


The rains that saturated North Texas during the late summer and early fall did more damage than good. There were two distinctly separate wet periods of at least two or three weeks each, with a nice spot of weather in between. This one-two soggy punch must have created perfect breeding conditions for snails. We smashed them daily on the concrete as they moved across wet pavement to avoid the puddles, we knocked them off of the house and the garage door. They climbed the dog dishes, they threw themselves into the standing water in saucers under potted plants, and they permeated the garden, causing damage to many of the vegetables that didn’t languish from wet feet.

Now the weather is nice again, and I have some really splendid Super Fantastic and cherry tomatoes. But those that are near or on the ground are falling victim to hungry snails. Yesterday I tossed four of the big fruits into the compost because they’d been partially devoured and were now rotting.

My preferred snail treatment is a bowl of beer. Whether an organic gardener or not (but I am), this simply works best. Last night I set up several shallow bowls and they all attracted snails, though the bowl shown here got the lion’s share, and was situated closest to where I’ve suffered the most damage to my tomatoes. I’ll put out some more in slightly different locations tonight.

Snails will travel to beer, but the beer has to be fresh. There’s no point in leaving a bowl out for more than one night. Like me, they like their beer cold and with a head on it. I suspect the carbon dioxide released from the carbonated beverage is what attracts them. I suppose I could run a similar test with a cola and see if it works. Maybe I’ll run that experiment this evening as well (with a diet cola. I may have to buy one with sugar for comparison purposes).

Last night’s beer party appears to have attracted a couple of hundred revelers. There will be diminishing numbers if I keep putting out beer, but until I get it down to a more typical response of 3 or 4 snails per bowl, I’ll keep it up. The garden is clearly overpopulated with snails and the outcome is a damaged crop. I don’t want to fool with snail bait or salting their trails. Beer is cheap.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Freda permalink
    October 30, 2015 9:45 pm

    I have done this a couple of times with good success!
    But there still eating my plants!! There every where!!
    Do u know of anything that prevents them!!

    • Maggie Dwyer permalink*
      October 30, 2015 10:07 pm

      The beer routine is a good test to see how many snails are out and about, and it is a sort of parlor trick for gardeners. I use Sluggo in the garden and it does an effective job of keeping the snails away. We also have a problem with pill bugs/sow bugs, and the product called Sluggo Plus has spinosad that efficiently removes those pests. A gentle sprinkling of the little pellets at the beginning of the growing season works for quite a while (weeks, at least). Sluggo is considered an organic product.

      Good luck!

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