Slugs may be the ‘lager louts’ of the animal world as researchers find the drink is the most effective way to trap and kill the pests.
The vandals of the vegetable patch are 64 times more likely to be caught in a trap containing lager than water, an experiment found.
Bitter was 53 times more effective than water for catching the perennial plant-eating pests.
While attracted to all manner of beer brands, the gastropods rejected other drinks including red and white wines, Cava, cider, orange squash and water.
Slugs may be the ‘lager louts’ of the animal world as researchers find the drink is the most effective way to trap and kill the pests (stock image)
Charity Garden Organic, based in Coventry, recruited 166 ‘citizen scientists’ for its ‘slug pub’ research project.
Nearly six in ten – 57 per cent – reported that slugs regularly ruin their carefully-tended vegetable patches or beautiful blooms.
Volunteers were asked to space out four sunken glasses below the soil surface among a slug susceptible crop during the April to October growing season.
Each glass was three quarters filled with lager, bitter, water and a drink of their choice. Twice a week, the number of slugs in the traps was counted and recorded.
On each check, the average number of slugs caught was 6.4 with lager, 5.3 with bitter and 0.1 with water.
Slugs do not discriminate by brand – cheap lager was just as attractive as more expensive brands, researchers found.
Records in the Royal Horticultural Society Lindley Library show the war between gardeners and gastropods has been raging for centuries.
Texts show that home remedies have been used since the 1600s to counter slugs and snails.
But in recent years a plague of ‘super-slugs’ has arrived in the UK from Spain, travelling on imported salads and flowers.
The Spanish invaders are mating with species already found in Britain to create a ‘mutant’ species that threatens to eat its way through our crops.
The vandals of the vegetable patch are 64 times more likely to be caught in a trap containing lager (pictured) than water, an experiment found. Bitter was 53 times more effective than water for catching the perennial plant-eating pests (stock image)
Many gardeners have long been searching for an effective alternative to conventional slug pellets, which can poison other wildlife But research last year by the RHS found slugs to be winning the war against gardeners when it came to five other home remedies.
Its scientists found copper tape, horticultural grit, pine bark mulch, wool pellets and egg shells made no difference to slugs munching lettuce.
The hungry pests inflicted the same damage to lettuces treated with the remedies as without.
In the latest experiment, Garden Organic set out to test whether trapping slugs with beer was just an old wives’ tale.
Its volunteers reported that slugs were indeed enticed by the smell of beer, fell into the glasses and drowned.
And the charity claims that beer traps do not merely lure more slugs onto gardeners’ vegetable patches.
It says that the more slugs are caught, the less damage is done to plants, suggesting the ‘slug pubs’ divert them away from crops.
Garden Organic’s project officer Dr Anton Rosenfeld said that slugs are attracted to the fermentation gasses of beer.
He said: ‘Our volunteer scientists found that slugs showed little interest in water, orange squash, wine or even Cava.
‘Lager or bitter, even the cheapest brands, proved to be most effective.
‘We believe that the combination of volatiles and yeast attracts the slugs and the alcohol content has been shown to have little bearing on effectiveness.
‘This is just one of countless examples of our members helping to influence and change how we garden and grow.’
The traps mostly caught some of the most destructive species of slugs – the grey field and common garden.
Encouragingly, the leopard slug, which has an important role in breaking down compost, was not caught in large numbers.
Experts say yoghurt pots or hollowed out melons filled with cheap beer also make for low maintenance traps.
They advise placing the traps at the edge of beds.
If placed in the middle, slugs might get distracted by juicy vegetables on their way to the pub.