Monday, July 30, 2012

Tipsy Trap: How I Used Beer to Get Rid of Snails

I hate snails with a seething, white-hot hatred. They're vile, loathsome, repulsive creatures. I hate their slimy little guts.

There are a few good reasons for this deep hatred and disgust.

My mom has these pretty orange flowers growing all over in her flowerbeds. (I snapped this picture on the 4th of July -- they're in full-bloom right now). I love them.

Knowing this, my mom potted up a bunch of transplants for my yard. Isn't that sweet?

I couldn't get to planting them right away, so I left them in the backyard like this for a few days, making sure they would get watered regularly by our sprinkling system.  One morning, as I was heading out to feed the chickens, I looked over at my little potted transplants. They were covered with snails! Seriously, there had to be a snail on each one, if not more. It was completely revolting.

My transplants never quite recovered. The stupid snails also did this to my petunias in my front yard -- they ate the blossoms right off during the night. I find them on all sorts of plants and flowers regularly. Grrrr.

Another reason:  these awful things love to congregate around my house at night. One time after dark, I was taking out the trash and I stepped on one. Barefoot. It was one of the grossest experiences of my life.

Last week it rained a few times (hooray!) and the weather seemed to bring them out in droves, so I decided it was time to fight back. They'd eaten too many of my plants and left their little slimy trails all over my driveway and patio long enough. I read a while back that snails are attracted to the smell of beer. There's something about the yeast in the beer that they seem to like. If you put some beer in a dish, they'll go to it to get a drink, get drunk, and drown. Easy enough. Plus, I like the idea of using this natural alternative to any sort of insecticide in my garden.

So I went and bought a big can of beer at a nearby gas station.

{I'd like to pause for a moment and mention the significance of this. I'm 30 years old and this is first time I've bought an alcoholic beverage. A life-long Mormon, I've never so much as tasted even a sip of beer. It felt kind of weird. Plus, I didn't even get ID'd. Aren't they supposed to check if you look under 40? Do I look over 40? As you can imagine, I've developed a minor complex because of this.}

Instead of using a dish or saucer, I went for a more hands-off approach using some empty containers. That way, I could just pick up the container and throw it straight into the trash, dead snails and all.  I also wanted to keep it enclosed just in case my cat got curious. To make my traps, I used an empty vinegar jug and an empty milk carton. You could also use a soda bottle or any other plastic container you have on hand.

On each side of the container, about 1-2 inches from the base, cut out a square hole (again, about 1-2 inches square). I used my husband's pocket knife, but you could use a box cutter, scissors, craft knife, whatever you have on hand.

Next, dig a shallow hole where you want to put the trap. You want the bottom edge of the hole to be at ground level so that the snails can crawl right in.

Pour the beer into the trap, filling the base up to the bottom of the holes on the side. I would suggest doing this in the evening since the things are most active at night.

The trap is set. Now you just have to wait. This is a good time to practice your maniacal  laugh. I know I did.

The next morning, on my way to feed the chickens, I popped open the lid of the snail trap. Sure enough, there were a bunch of them in there and there were others just about to go in. Remember that burning hatred I mentioned before? Well, let's just say I'm feeling a lot better lately.

{This post is linked up to Homestead Barn Hop Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, and Little House Friday..} 


LivingSoAbundantly said...

My dad has done that with much success. ;) Great tip!

Mary said...

Here's a funny - (at least it was funny to me) - I clicked on this post from my google reader, thinking it was a post from one of my sisters. I'm reading, thinking "wow! I didn't know my mom would transplant flowers like that" - and then I got the part about the beer. And I'm thinking "What a liar." My sister has recently become active in the church, but before that was quite the party girl and definitely had had a drink or two. I kept reading the line "life-long Mormon" and kept thinking "What the heck?" It was then that I looked at the author. This post made MUCH MORE SENSE! It gave me a chuckle and honestly I might be using your tip. My girls recently used salt on a snail. Emma felt bad about it later. :)

Heather said...

That is funny! I can see how that would have been pretty confusing! :)

Also, Max just discovered the salt and snail thing and even as much as I hate those awful things, I couldn't help but feel a little bad when I saw it bubbling to death. Ick. Yet another way snails are totally disgusting.

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