The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Kill your slugs with milk

slug trap with milkI am working in Saffron Walden at the moment in my friend Anna’s new house. It doesn’t have a fridge. A pint of milk doesn’t last more than a day. Two days ago Anna cleared the kitchen of various dead milk containers and put them on the terrace outside. One container was a transparent plastic cup, half filled with stale milk.

The next day I was having a break in the garden and spotted that a lot of tiny curled things were in the cup. Initially I assumed that her little girls had put a handful of gravel in it. But something rang the Slug Killer alarm bell. I picked it up the cup, swirled and peered. Anna had inadvertently created a slug trap. The cup was full of small snails and slugs. All satisfyingly dead.

That morning I tootled into the green house and found that my 24 tobacco plants that I have nurtured for seven weeks had been chomped. Only the base of the stalks remained. Enraged, I examined my watercress plants.

The pots in the greenhouse were clear. These are waiting to be delivered to friends. My pot stands outside the greenhouse, in the shade in a washing up bowl of water. There were two slugs asleep on the surface of my pot. A lot of the tenderest tips were sheared off and the slugs were dormant beside these tips. They had fallen asleep with food on the table. I tossed the slugs into the chicken run.

Driving down to Essex I pondered the slug question. I am not keen on using slug pellets. I’ve resentfully tried beer traps (why should slugs be enjoying our great beer?) and daily teach slugs what life as a circus cannon ball would be like. Using a firm swing they sail through the air with ease. This is satisfying but I know that by they time I return home they will have trekked their way back to my seedlings. Anna’s Milk Trap was a joyous discovery.

This morning I was on tenterhooks when I arrived at Anna’s house. I shot into the garden. The cup was now full of slugs and pretty foul milk. Finally I had found a practical answer to our slug problem. I rushed indoors and announced my discovery. The building team acknowledged my discovery with a brief nod before the ceiling that they were manipulating crashed down with a dusty elongated thud.

Feeling like an undiscovered Einstein I returned home and switched on the laptop to check my findings on the Internet. I discovered that slug haters have already discovered My Discovery.

I found a great site, that deals with every sort of slug killing idea or device.
A must for anyone who has decided to grow vegetables but has found that they have opened a well reviewed, Michelin starred Slug Restaurant. Now I am going to offer a glass of milk, as an aperitif. A cheap, easy and effective way of distracting slugs from my precious seedlings.

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  1. Lynn Tirawi

    Hello… you have any suggestions for fleas? A home remedy? I live in Marshall Tx…….which has sand fleas…I have a cat and he comes in and out…..I have put Meds on him….but ….he still brings them in….I need serious help…for inside and out!!!

    Thanks Lynn11570

    • I am in Ohio I have used borax. It is a powder found in Borateem laundry cleaner. The borax is such a fine powder that when the fleas in hail it the fleas suffocate. I have put it on my dog, sprinkled it on my carpets (leave for a day or two, if needed reapply) I even sprinkled it the yard where my dog roamed. It really seemed to help.

    • 3parts water to 1 part washing up liquid in a tin foil coated casserole dish covered with a desk lamp positioned over it works wonders

  2. agnes

    Great advice and plenty of it too. I’ve just been outside looking at my newly planted out beans and marrows yesterday, several of them are eaten totally despite the fact that I had put organic slug pellets around them! There are millions of slugs around this year, not sure what I will do next, I will try the milk thing, and if that fails, maybe I should get a few ducks 🙂

  3. Read the milk trick in a fairytale and wanted to see if it works.Glad to see it does and will use it in summmer on my own plants!!!

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Arthur

    Wow. Real coffee beans are now back on the shopping list – thanks a million.

  5. WOW! Milk that’s a new one… great tip though thanks i may try it out. It’s gross that you found one in your fridge

    God i have loads of slugs!

    Anyone used coffee?

    Heard it works, theres some science out there that caffeine works, apparently it stupefies them and suppresses their appetite (which figures because it does the same to us)

    Alas there aren’t any caffeine slug repellents in the shops and googling I’ve only found one which I might buy called slug snub, it looks like its new, it seems people have used it and said good things.

    Theres an entertaining sped up clip of it working over a few days

    Anyone tried this?

  6. bleachblonde_27

    I found your site on google and I thought that some people might want an eco friendly way to do it too! I thought it was funny that they ate your tobacco plants when this guy used tobacco to kill them! Have a read!

  7. Alan Meeks

    I read the posts about beer vs milk with interest and I will put my cards on the table now – I do want to sell something. About three years ago I was having terrible problems in a large garden with slugs and snails. So, as a product designer by trade, I spent hours in the shed conjuring up inventions that would catch the anoying little pests. I eventually found that the tried and tested beer trap was the best solution.

    At first I just cut up tonic water bottles and burried them in flower beds and pots, but I hated having to pull them out, throw away the gooey contents, put them back and then refill. It was really messy and I was going through buckets of Beer!

    So after a bit more design and testing I came up with a solution that worked for me. I found that beer would last ages if you re-used it so I created a beer trap that I now call the Slug Inn. It has an inner and outer. The outer stays in the ground and the inner has a hole in the bottom that allows the beer to drain into the outer but keeps the slugs and snails so you can throw them away. I also added a pretty lid on top to keep the rain out.

    It worked so well that I got together with a friend who has a manufacturing company and we started producing and selling them about a year ago. Hurray for British Design and manufacturing. It’s been a bit slow but they are selling well this year – I just need to get it better known.

    We sell six slug traps for £12.99 including P&P. See my website

    Regarding milk, yes slugs love it but I had heard that it attracts other animal like hedgehogs who get very ill if they drink it. It’s the yeast in beer that attracts thethe slugs so you can make up mixture of yeast and water or some people swear by yeast and orange juice.

    Happy hunting.


  8. Thanks for the tip. I hope it works for me as i found a very tiny one dead in the fridge this morning ewwwwwww and another big fat one a few nights ago on the kitchen floor. Lucky i turned the light on or i would have stood on it bare foot ewwwwwwww

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Len

    We have the same problem too! You could try putting the copper strips over the place that they get in but with if you’re anything like us it’s difficult to work out where they do get in!

    If you do find a solution I’d love to here about it.

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