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Snakes and Snails and Snails and Snails and�

Posted by runktrun z7a MA (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 28, 11 at 14:20

For the past few years I have had my head buried deep in the sand in regards to a multiplying population of slugs and snails becoming the primary insect pest in my landscape. I suppose I kept telling myself some weather extreme or new nesting bird would nock down the population but when I pulled twelve snails off of one hemerocallis leaf I had to admit it is clearly time for me to take action.


From Garden Insects of North America by Whitney Cranshaw "Slugs and snails are types of animals known as gastropods, fairly close relatives of clams, mussels, and other mollusks. As such they have several different features than the arthropods (insects, mites, spiders, etc.) and lack distinct segmentation or an external skeleton. The body is soft and moves by means of a broad, muscular "foot" that covers the underside. On slugs a large lobe called the mantle is present on the front half of the back; this is covered by a hard shell in snails. Two pairs of tentacles are present in the front, a short pair for sensing odors and a longer pair tipped with eyes. Many slugs and snails are hermaphrodites, possessing both sex organs, but these mature at different times producing male and female phases."

From Field Guide to the Slug by David Gordon
During courtship, two slugs will circle each other, often for hours, with both partners engaged in ritualized bouts of lunging, nipping, and sideswiping with their tails. Two slugs may also display their disproportionately large sex organs. The great gray garden slugs penis is nearly half its total body length. In fact, penis size is reflected in the scientific name of one banana slug species: dolichophallus Latin for "long penis"

Having two outdoor cats have definitely made a huge dent in my rodent population but the down side is these gifts (either whole or regurgitated) litter my entryway. Much to my surprise as I always believed slugs were vegetarians I observed eight slugs feeding on the remnants of a kitty gift. I have also come to learn that slugs will eat other slugs of different species.

The lifespan of a snail varies from species to species but averages somewhere between two to seven years. With that in mind I suppose that trying to decrease the population could be done during spring, summer, or fall.

Game Plan
1. Trial a variety of slug traps, ie water bottle top cut off just below the neck then stuck inside the bottle and tapped closed, cottage cheese container with lid cut openings on sides just below the lid.
2. Trial trap bait of beer (con needs to be fresh to be effective and cost) or the lesser expensive 2 tablespoons of flour, one teaspoon of brewers yeast, and one teaspoon of sugar mixed into two cups of warm water.
3. Buy large amounts of Sluggo at 50% off nursery sale.
4. Evening hand picking. Hmmm on second thought I might skip this one.

So I thought I would share with you overtime my Operation Snail/Slug Saughter with the hope that you might share your experiences with these pesky gastropods. Keep in mind that I have allowed this population to multiply to a point that I would consider the situation to be extreme. Another words a couple of pie plates of beer wont even begin to make a dent.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Snakes and Snails and Snails and Snails and�

Many years ago I lived in a tiny house with a tiny yard that had a ridiculous number of slugs. I'm not sure if the the slugs were coming from the surrounding woods, under the house foundation, or where, but one dared not walk outside barefoot in the evenings for fear of having a slug sliding up between the toes. (shudder!) Since it was a small yard with mostly rough field grass and only a few garden areas, we tried setting traps (the beer type,) but the found the traps were overwhelmed by the sheer number of slugs. We ended up getting some 6" spikes and going out on damp evenings and skewering slugs and then scraping them off into cans of soapy water which we would then be sure were full of water and fasten lids onto to drown the slugs. We also put out boards and during the day we would flip the boards and squish the slugs which had taken shelter from the day's heat. I'm not sure how much of a dent all this made in the slug population, but it sure made me feel better.

Since you have kitties, Escar-Go! Slug & Snail Control is a slug bait made by Gardens Alive which is pet-safe. Don't know if that is the case with Sluggo since I do know that some slug baits aren't safe around small kids and animals. There are probably other pet-safe slug baits - this is the only one I know about.

I have heard that crushed eggshells around particularly vulnerable plants is supposed to help keep out softbodied critters, but in my experience the birds remove the eggshells faster than I can eat eggs so I don't know if it actually works.

Here is a link that might be useful: Escar-Go! Slug & Snail Control

RE: Snakes and Snails and Snails and Snails and�

Offhand I don't remember what brand of slug killer I use. But when you look for it, make sure the active ingredient is iron phosphate. That kills the snail and slugs, but it isn't harmful to fish, birds, pets, earthworms, beneficial insects, and can be used in vegetable gardens.

This year I also started sprinkling my slug killer a day or two before I planted out my seedlings. Kinda of a preventative measure type of thing - get rid of the slugs before I planted the slug food. The stuff I have is little white pellets, and I just keep inspecting the ground - if I don't see the pellets, I sprinkle more.

RE: Snakes and Snails and Snails and Snails and�

I get the impression that the snail population in my area on the south coast of Mass has been increasing in recent years as well. They seem to be everywhere I look, climbing on anything and everything. I've even encountered a few climbing the walls, INSIDE MY HOUSE! How they got in I will never know. But I can only assume they hitched a ride on me. I just pick them off of plants and crush them under foot.

RE: Snakes and Snails and Snails and Snails ...

I use sluggo and similar non-toxic slug baits. They really do work, as long as they're re-applied occasionally. I've tried all the home-made gizmos, and can't say they were any fun to use.

Of course, that was before I knew about slugs' amazing reproductive apparatus, described in your post; emptying trays of beer full of slimy bodies might be more fun, now that I'd know I was looking at something awesome.

RE: Snakes and Snails and Snails and Snails and�

Two years ago there was an explosion of the snail population in the garden, focused on the hemerocallis by the deck. They were tiny, no bigger than the end of a little finger, so handpicking was the preferred method of disposal. As I recall, I dropped them into a coffee can of soapy water. In the beginning, I think it might have been laced with ammonia, but they drowned just as well in suds. Then the corpses went into the compost pile. I did apply Sluggo on the ground to catch any newcomers, but not soon enough to prevent the invasion in the first place. Of note, though, when I remember to apply it diligently around some nearby hostas, the leaves look much nicer, so it does work.

Those snails being modeled on your young friend are the biggest things I've seen since living in the SF Bay area. Yuck!

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