How To Rid Your Garden Of Snails
Gastropods for those who may be unfamiliar with that term are commonly called snails or slugs.
The snails are the ones seen with shells. Slugs are the ones without shells.
There are literally thousands of species of these adaptive creatures and they almost rival the insect population when it comes to numbers of them. They also vary in size from minute to quite large.
In addition to the common garden variety of snail that loves munching on leaves, our garden mulch and any dead or decomposing animal life, they along with their cousins the slugs can live just about everywhere.
From high mountains to deep recesses in the sea, they have adapted to almost every living condition on earth including every type of climate.
I just wish that they would quit climbing up our windows leaving their tell tale tracks of mucus behind! While they do live almost everywhere, we seem to have more than our fair share of them in Houston!
We no longer use snail bait because if it gets on cats paws, it can cause them to become ill and/or even die. We almost lost one of our cats for that very reason! Cats like to groom themselves frequently and it is for that reason that the bait would have been ingested.
Do you have a snail or slug problem where you live?
Combating Snail Populations
There are many ways to manage snail populations successfully in a garden landscape. You will notice that I did not say eliminate...because if the conditions are right it is hard to get rid of all the snails in one's garden. The most a person can hope is to keep them somewhat under control.
That is particularly true in a climate like Houston, Texas where it is most often warm and humid.
I love rocks and use them in our landscaping. Snails and slugs love to hide under rocks or similar objects. Am I going to eliminate the decorative rocks that I have gathered from many vacation trips from our garden? Of course not! So other methods have to be utilized.
Keeping our garden weeded and regularly cultivated helps avoid a major infestation of snails.
Snails do not like crushed eggshells. We save all of our eggshells and add them to our garden. They avoid sharp edges and the eggshells add nutrients...so it is a win-win on that score! They also avoid gravel, sand, cinders from a fireplace, sawdust and cedar bark.
What type of snail/slug deterrent do you most often use?
Diatomaceous earth will have them slithering elsewhere as will Epsom Salts.
Some growing plants act as deterrents. A few examples include rosemary, garlic, fennel and all kinds of mint.
If you have garden snakes or toads in your garden you are lucky as they like to feast upon slugs and snails.
Birds will also eat snails if given a chance. Because snails generally hide under things during the day and do most of their wandering at night, birds are generally roosting at that time.
There is an exception in the case of Zombie Snails who readily expose themselves. Be sure and check out the video below. You will find out why these types of gastropods are eaten by birds!
Combating These Creatures With Beer!
Some friends of ours recently complained about all of the damage snails and slugs were doing to their garden. I shared with them a good home remedy that I had heard many years ago.
This remedy really works!
Buy the cheapest beer you can find. No sense baiting snails with expensive brands! Save the pricier brands for the beer you wish to consume.
Pour some beer into a bowl and place out in your garden in the evening. By dawn you should have collected a number of these gastropods who are drawn to the smell.
They will crawl in, imbibe and die. Amazing but true!
Whoever first told me this said to pour the beer into an emptied grapefruit rind. That also works but if you do not happen to have grapefruit in your home, a bowl works equally well.
You can put the dead snails in your compost where they will enrich your soil.
Now that is getting even!
Have you ever used beer as snail bait?
These creatures also live in the sea. In fact most land snails evolved from the ones in the sea hundreds of millions years ago.
A deadly sea snail is known as the Killer Cone Snail. Fish or other prey are helpless against its inflicted toxins when attacked by the snail. It can be sleuth-like in how it hunts.
Watch the video below to see how effective this killer is when hunting to satisfy its hunger.
Some Facts Regarding Snails
If you listen to the video on the right you will now be aware of some interesting facts. To recap that information and more...
- They are hermaphrodites (have both male and female genitalia).
- They still need another snail in which to mate.
- Up to 100 eggs are laid about 1 month after mating.
- Some can live up to 15 years if conditions are right.
- Their vision is not good but their sense of smell makes up for it.
- According to the Guinness World Record book the largest one is the African Giant Snail. It measures 15.5 inches and weighs up to 2 pounds!
- They do like moisture but can seal their shells off with a parchment type of seal and remain dormant for several months without food or water if needed.
- They produce a thick slime which enables them to easily ambulate over various surfaces without harm to themselves.
- They have thousands of teeth on their tongues! No wonder they can easily munch on our garden produce!
- May 24th is National Escargot Day
Some people like eating snails. I tried that once a long time ago. French chefs call it escargot. It sounds like a fancier name. What I liked about that preparation was the garlicky butter sauce. But then anything served with that sauce probably would have tasted good. Ha!
Look At The Size of This African Giant Snail!
The video below shows how to harvest and cook these garden pests if harvested from your own home landscape. Bon Appétit!
© 2016 Peggy Woods