Beer, Beans, and Slugs

June 16th, 2008

Bean Sprout Damage
Due to the rising cost of food I’ve been adding a lot more edibles to my garden this year, and am growing some for the first time, including, bush green beans.

Having never grown green beans before I did not know what to make of damage that was all but killing my young sprouts. The leaves were all eaten, and the plants weren’t more than a few inches high. What could be doing it? Well, time to hit Google and do some investigating. It was not flea beetle damage, they make smaller holes and otherwise damage the leaves rather than wholesale eating them. It also was not bean leaf beetles, because, as near as I can tell, they also sometimes don’t eat holes, but rather strips off the leaf, so you get brown areas/spots rather than holes (though still, some holes). I also knew it was not japanese beetles, because they don’t feed at night, and I never saw them during the day, and quite frankly I think its too early in the year for them. Also, my beans growing nearby in containers were blessedly untouched, which made me think it was not any flying insect.

Going out at night with a flashlight, always a good diagnosis method, I immediately found the culprit, slugs, many of them. Evil, evil slugs. I should have known, had the damage been on a hosta I would have known it was slugs instantly, I guess I just didn’t realize that, like hostas, beans are also slug food.
Beer Slug Trap

So what did I do? I ran inside and grabbed a beer, seriously, because beer is both heaven and hell to slugs. See, they like the smell, and so it attracts them for a swim, but any swim is their last as the beer also kills them. Wonderful, cheap, effective. Check out the included picture, look at all those slugs it caught in 1 night, and you can’t even see the tiny ones that got caught.

Now, the beans are doing better, and hopefully will recover.

To make a beer trap simply find a shallow dish, lid with raised sides, plate, etc, and poor beer in it, and leave it outside overnight. If you have slug problems, it really truly works.

6 Responses to “Beer, Beans, and Slugs”

  1. Ben  Says:

    Great to see someone else is catching slugs and snails with beer!
    My grandmother (who doesn’t drink) taught me this one, I was catching 50 snails a night in my new house till I culled the population down.

  2. James Mann  Says:

    Well I have been scratching my head trying to figure out what was eating the leaves from my squash and you may have just given me the answer.

    I will have to go out tonight with a flashlight and see if any of those little slugs are feasting on my leaves.

    We don’t have alcohol in the house so if it’s slugs I will have to get a beer from my neighbor.

    Thanks for the tip.

  3. Sally  Says:

    Thanks for the comment. We have just started gardening and couldn’t find the culprit for the holes in our bean plant leaves. We watered the other day and saw at least a dozen slugs and didn’t know how to rid ourselves of them without a lot of harsh chemicals. This is great.

  4. Andrew  Says:

    Great post! I have just gotten into growing my own food and I know that I have slugs because they come into my house from time to time under the front door. I think I’ll put out some beer and see what I catch. The cat might get drunk though. =)

  5. John  Says:

    I sure hope it works because my bean plants are starting to look pretty dead. Thanks for the bright idea!

  6. businessclix  Says:

    my garden is full of bush bean plants right now they are all flourishing in florida right now.

    I am not currently having any problems with snails or slugs on my beans, but they do go for my tomatoes.

    this is an excellent tip, thank you

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