Both snails and slugs can cause major damage to gardens and greenhouse plants, making them the enemy of any gardener. These nocturnal creatures are a bit tricky to control, but can be contained and treated with our professional grade products. Combat these slimy creatures yourself to quickly protect your plants.
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Snail and Slug Identification
Snails and slugs are not insects, but mollusks, and are related to clams and oysters. Garden snails have a hard shell that provides added shelter, while slugs do not have an external shell. They feed on both living and dying or dead plant matter, eating leaves, stems, roots, and fruits. These animals have eyes on the end of stalks that give them a distinct appearance, and leave mucous trails that help in their identification during the day.
Snail and Slug Habits
These small mollusks are very active at night when it is cooler and damp and hide during the day, usually under rocks and stones or any shady, damp area. They chew large, ragged holes in leaves, will eat seedlings, low growing fruit, and roots. They are actively feeding from spring to the first frost. Hostas, strawberries, lettuce, and cabbage are especially vulnerable to snails and slugs. Because of their nocturnal activity, it can be difficult to find snails and slugs in the garden to identify them as the culprits of your damaged plants.
Getting Rid of Snails and Slugs
For comprehensive snail control and slug control, you will have to combine methods and techniques.
Since snails and slugs need some moisture and shade to thrive, reducing moisture and shade will create an unfavorable environment. Over-mulching can cause excess moisture, so make sure your mulch layer is more than three inches and spread evenly.
Clear any plant matter – like piles of weeds, dead plants, and leaves – excess plant matter not only provides abundant food, but shelter as well.
Hand picking is the easiest way to get these animals off of your plants. While you may have a hard time finding them during the day, you can go out at night and get pick them right off the plant. Otherwise, look under rocks, leaves, boards and other possible hiding spots. Place them in buckets of soapy water.
Barriers, Traps, and Pesticides
Some people like to use copper to make barriers around their plants as they believe the chemical reaction with the copper and the excretion from the snails and slugs causes an electric shock. Copper tape is available for this purpose.
You can create your own slug and snail traps (many instructions are available online) or purchase commercial ones. You can also place boards or other materials around your garden to create hiding places, picking them off once a day.
Wood ash or diatomaceous earth sprinkled around your plants can help to reduce snail or slug populations by dehydrating these animals. Using salt on slugs and snails is also effective, but can also kill plants, so it has limited use. Any desiccating material act as snail or slug killers.
Many slug and snail products (molluscicide) are made with natural ingredients that are safer to use around pets and non-target animals and insects. Apply all products after watering or after rain, as this is when slugs and snails may become active. Snail and slug baits attract them to moist soil, and the active ingredients dehydrate the snails and slugs.
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