Content of the material
- Habitat and Habits
- Manual Removal/Snail Traps
- What do snails eat?
- Place Snail Barriers
- 2. Use Traps to Control the Mollusks
- What Damage Can Snails Cause?
- 2. Egg Shells
- Is a chemical slug killer a necessity?
- Avoid Overfeeding
- How to Get Rid of Snails in the House
- 1. Seal all Gaps
- 2. Use Bait
- How to dispose of snails
- But I heard snails were good for flower pots?
- Watch These Related Videos
- 3. Set up a Beer Container Trap
- Getting rid of slugs in the garden – use baking soda!
- How to stop snails eating young plants
- 5. Use Emptied Grapefruit Halves
- How Snails Survive On Your Land
- How to Get Rid of Snails When They Start to Scavenge
- Hand-Pick Them Out
- Set Humane Snail Traps and Barriers
- Introduce Decollate Snails
Habitat and Habits
Not all nighttime marauding is caused by gastropods. An easy clue to determine who’s causing the damage is by the telltale trail of shiny mucous they leave behind – if a slime trail is present, you know the culprit is a slug or snail.
Snails and slugs both belong to the mollusk phylum, and have similar bodies and biology. The primary difference between the two is that slugs are without the snail’s external spiral shell.
They both propel themselves with a muscular “foot” that continuously secretes a slimy mucous to help them glide, and both thrive in similar environments.
Both types of gastropods prefer cool temperatures and are most active at night, or on overcast days. On bright, sunny days, or when temperatures are high, they’ll seek cool, shady havens to beat the heat and bright light.
In cold weather, they’ll hibernate underneath any debris that provides shelter, or burrow into topsoil. But in areas with mild winters, they can be active year-round.
As you can see, there are many ways to control snails and slugs in your home, garden, or water feature. A combination of methods might work best. Depending on your preference and other factors, you can choose the methods that suit you best.
Manual Removal/Snail Traps
If it’s still in the early stages of the snail infestation, you may try simply removing every snail you see from the aquarium with your hands. It’s possible to remove them all and prevent them from reproducing if they’re caught early on.
However, this usually isn’t the case since they can reproduce rapidly and can easily hide in the tank. If the pest population is out of control, try snail traps. They are very simple to make at a low cost.
For example, use a piece of romaine lettuce (make sure it’s clean and safe to put into the aquarium) at the bottom of the tank. Wait an hour or so for the snails to come out and start feasting on it. Once there’s a large amount of them, simply lift the lettuce out of the water and dispose of them.
What do snails eat?
Snails eat just about everything: from seedlings and the tender new growth of ornamental plants to rotting compost. In the vegetable plot they’ll make a raid on large, leafy greens, tender herbs and ripening soft fruits such as strawberries. Some will even eat other animals such as worms.
Place Snail Barriers
Much to your dismay, snails in your garden likely have unrestricted access to their desired food source: the roots and leaves of your plants. Most gardeners want to get rid of snails while leaving the soil composition and microbiome of their garden relatively undisturbed. These gardeners need to look no further than the contents of their own pantry and garage.
Natural items you may already have around the house can be used to create grating barriers that snails will be unable to pass over. Below a snail’s hard outer shell is the vulnerable, soft body they use to transport themselves around. Using irritating materials such as abrasive gravel, sharp eggshell fragments, diatomaceous earth, or rough wood chips will deter them from getting any closer to what they thought would be their next meal.
2. Use Traps to Control the Mollusks
If you'd prefer not to use bait or poison, a trap is a good solution. Common homemade traps for snails and slugs include inverted grapefruit halves, overturned flowerpots, and boards.
- Grapefruits have a scent that attracts the gastropods. When they crawl under the halves, they get trapped inside and die. Some great alternatives for this method are inverted melon or orange rinds and inverted cabbage leaves.
- Overturned flowerpots work the same way: Pests move into the pots when they are tilted. Then, to trap as many pests as possible, leave the flowerpots overnight in the infested area.
- Use a board, setting the wooden plank on the ground. The mollusks will come to hide under it after their activities at night. You can then lift the board during the daytime to kill them. A good alternative to the board is a black plastic sheet or carpet.
- Other ways: An inverted saucer or any other vessel with lettuce leaves or other bait can also be a good trap. The pests will be attracted by the leaves or food items and get trapped inside.
What Damage Can Snails Cause?
For a small creature, snails can pack a big punch. Snails have a rough, rasp-like tongue, which they scrape across the edges of plant leaves. The result is large holes and chips across the surface area of the plant, which can damage or even kill your greenery.
But that’s not all they do.
Here are a few reasons to get rid of snails as soon as you see them:
- Snails reduce crop yield. If you have a flower or a vegetable garden on your property, snails will eat your plants and reduce your crop yield. They’re particularly hard on leafy vegetables.
- They can destroy water features. Snails and slugs are parasitic and can kill fish in decorative ponds and water features. Plus, these water-loving mollusks reproduce rapidly and can short your electronics and clog pond or pool filters and pipes.
- They spread disease. Snails carry diseases and parasitic worms (including Schistosomiasis that can be dangerous for domestic pets and people. Having them on your property may be putting your health at risk.
- They are unsightly. Nobody wants to pick a fresh leaf of lettuce from the garden only to find a snail. Snails are unsightly and disgusting and will make your yard or garden a less enjoyable place to be.
- Avoid using salt to kill snails, as it will likely damage your plants or the soil in your yard or garden.
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- Be careful when using coffee grounds, as they can affect the pH of the soil.
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2. Egg ShellsIf you eat a lot of eggs, this is a free way to deter snails from your plants—and I stress the word deter, as this will not kill them. Simply save the shells from your eggs and allow them to dry out for a day or two. Then, using the bottom of a cup, crush the egg shells into small, sharp pieces. Sprinkle the egg shells all the way around your plants, making a border. Make a fairly wide berth around the plant, or the snails will not be deterred.
Snails hate the sharp pieces and will turn around and look for another place to eat…but they will not die, which is honestly what I want…to get rid of them entirely! If it rains or if you water, you will probably need to sprinkle more egg shells around your plants again, otherwise they will be feeding on your plants the moment they get the chance! This isn’t all bad though…egg shells are great for the garden because they add a lot of nutrients to the soil.
Is a chemical slug killer a necessity?
Although many gardeners use a chemical slug killer as soon as they spot slugs in their garden, it’s not always necessary, or recommended. Keep in mind that any slug killer with even a scarcity of a chemical component has an iimpact on nature and might affect growth of some plants. For this reason, experts claim that such method for getting rid of slugs should be used as a last resort.
Home remedies make a great alternative and help to get rid of slugs effectively. Products you use every day in the kitchen might keep slugs out of your garden. Some of the natural methods are surprisingly efficient, and at the same time – safe for your plants.
Overfeeding fish is pretty common in the hobby. There’s usually some fish that are slower than others to get to the food, so many hobbyists will feed extra to ensure everyone gets a full belly.
Although, snails are scavengers that will eat any leftover fish food that they find, so overfeeding will help their population grow rapidly. If you’re worried that not all fish are getting enough food, keep in mind that fish actually don’t need to eat that much. Adult fish can go for days without food and still thrive.
How to Get Rid of Snails in the House
Snails in your garden are one thing – snails in your house, though, are entirely another. Nobody wants to spot a snail on a wall or floorboard or – worse yet – step on one in the middle of the night.
Here are a few ways to get rid of snails in the house:
1. Seal all Gaps
The first step to stopping snails is identifying their access points. Use a flashlight to spot dried slime trails and trace them back to entry points. Seal all gaps around windows, doors, and foundations, and replace weather stripping on doors. Use caulk or silicone sealant for small cracks and expanding foam for larger cracks.
Pros: Effective, affordable, safe for kids and pets
Cons: Does not get rid of snails already in your home
2. Use Bait
For best results, fill a shallow bowl with beer and place it anywhere you’ve noticed snail activity, such as underneath a refrigerator or behind potted plants. If you have kids or pets, make sure to place the bait someplace they can’t reach or spill it. Check the bait trap frequently, and refresh with fresh bait if needed.
Pros: Effective, affordable, non-toxic, safe for households with kids and pets
Cons: You’ll have to set bait again and again to reduce your snail population
How to dispose of snails
If you manually remove snails or spray them with a DIY snail killer, you’ll want to remove them from the plant.
If you don’t, they’ll attract other bugs that come to eat them.
You can pick them up and toss them into a bucket filled with soapy water to kill them.
After a few minutes, pour the snails into a garbage bag and drain out the excess water to prevent any scent.
Then dispose of the bag of snails into your regular garbage receptacle outdoors.
But I heard snails were good for flower pots?
Snails can definitely be beneficial to your plants, whether they’re in a plant container or not.
Snails don’t do a lot of damage as long as you can keep them under control.
They’re very skilled at climbing all the way up to flowering plants to consume their buds. But just having a few of them here and there can help eat up rotting plants and leaves.
This can help prevent more bugs from coming into your yard and eating up the dead plants. Snails also eat various bacteria and fungus as well as plant leaves that are already damaged.
They’re a critical part of the ecosystem in your yard. Having a few of them proves to be beneficial.
But having a lot can be a problem. It’s all about balance and maintaining homeostasis. Remember your biology class?
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3. Set up a Beer Container Trap
First, find a spot in the garden where you can bury a container. The container should be buried deep enough so that the rim is level with the ground. Next, find some stale, flat beer and pour it into the container (about an inch deep). The snails and slugs will be attracted to the smell of the beer and drop themselves into the trap.
Getting rid of slugs in the garden – use baking soda!
You probably use baking soda in your kitchen regularly – but it has many more uses. You can clean a washing machine, descale a kettle or brighten curtains with it. It can also help you in the garden as a slug repellent.
Are you wondering whether using baking soda to get rid of snails is difficult? Some claim it’s the most effective method of getting rid of slugs. All you have to do is pour it in whatever spots you want to protect against the pests. Soda creates a barrier that repels slugs and snails – they are not able to cross it, so they give up and leave your garden.
How to stop snails eating young plants
It’s a good idea to start off seeds in pots instead of sowing them in the ground where they’re vulnerable to snail attack. To keep young plants out of reach of snails, put them in a greenhouse or cold frame, or in a raised frame on a stand.
Wait until they’re more established before planting them out. A cloche or plastic bottle with end cut off and the cap unscrewed will give them a bit of protection until they’re grown up enough to manage.
5. Use Emptied Grapefruit Halves
Slice a grapefruit in half then scoop out and enjoy the grapefruit flesh. Next, place the emptied grapefruit halves near affected plants and leave them overnight. You should find plenty of slugs and snails in it the next morning.
How Snails Survive On Your Land
Brown garden snails thrive in moist environments that are safely hidden from the heat of the sun. Most active during foggy, cloudy, or rainy days when it’s damp, these snail scoundrels will feed on a wide variety of living plants and decaying plant matter – such as young tree bark, ripe or ripening fruit crops, or young tree or plant leaves.
Other common plants snails consume include:
- Various vegetable plants
When feeding on plants, snails opt for seedlings, succulents, turfgrass, or herbs. As they munch on your foliage, they scrape their rasp-like tongues along the smooth edges of plant leaves and succulent arms, causing irregular-shaped holes and chips across the outermost surface area. Thankfully, most snails won’t be able to eat enough of your plants to kill them before you notice, so the damage they cause on your ornamentals is mostly an aesthetic issue.
Snails also go after many different types of ripe or ripening fruits – such as strawberries, tomatoes, and citrus fruits (feeding on both the fruit and bark of citrus trees). When snacking on fruits, they chew out circular-shaped areas on the rind – making the fruit appear unappetizing and blemished. Snails can be extremely damaging when nesting and reproducing in citrus fruit orchards, as citrus farmers utilize irrigation methods that create the perfect, moist environment for snails to prosper.
How to Get Rid of Snails When They Start to Scavenge
Hand-Pick Them Out
While this method might seem primitive, hand-picking snails from your garden or crops on a daily basis can be an effective way to eliminate their numbers. When scouring your area for snails, pay close attention to any hiding spots that may allow for snail populations to grow and do your best to get rid of them.
If you’re noticing snail damage but having a tough time sourcing them, you can water your entire area by hose or sprinkler during the late afternoon – starting your snail search after the sun sets with the help of a flashlight. Each time you hand-pick snails from your yard, you can put them in an empty bucket and relocate them to areas at least 65 feet (20 meters) away. It’s thought that snails have a natural homing instinct, but if they are taken far enough away from your garden or farm, they likely won’t be able to find their way back.
Set Humane Snail Traps and Barriers
In addition to temporarily utilizing sprinkler or hose irrigation to draw out snails, you can set up humane traps that enhance your chances of snatching snails at the source. To aid in capture, you can build and place wooden traps with runners throughout your landscape to allow them to crawl underneath – checking the underside at least once a week to see if snails are attached, hand-picking them off, and then relocating them.
Additionally, snails’ mucus secretions have a chemical reaction to copper, causing misfiring in their nervous systems and delivering an electric shock if they come in contact. Copper foil, banding, or screens on or around your garden can help keep snails far away from your valuable landscaping or food.
If you’ve ever poured table salt on a rogue slug in your driveway, then you know that this simplified solution can work! Mollusks are made up of a great deal of water, and their membranes are more permeable than most animals. Therefore, salt poured on top of these critters causes osmosis to occur – a biological phenomenon in which water passes from one region of high water concentration through a semipermeable membrane to a region of lower water concentration. This means that when salt is applied to snails, large amounts of fluid from inside their membranes rush to the surface to restore equilibrium and dilute the concentration of salt.
Although salt can be a great way to take care of a few snails here and there, using large amounts of organic salt in your garden can increase the salinity of the soil and damage your plants or crops. If the level of salts in the soil water is too high, water may flow from the plant roots back into the soil – resulting in dehydration of the plant, yield decline, or even death of the plant. If using salt, make sure to use inorganic salt (without a carbon-hydrogen bond) to ward off snails without harming your landscape.
Introduce Decollate Snails
Decollate snails (Rumina decollata) are natural predators to brown garden snails. By introducing these snails to your garden or crop, they can eliminate your harmful snail infestation with minimal damage to your land. Decollate snails are easy to differentiate from brown snails, as they have conical shells and grow to about 2 to 2.5 inches long.
During the daytime, decollates live in the first few inches of moist topsoil, leaf mulch, or underneath rocks. As the sun sets, they become active and will hunt slugs and snails – feasting on all types of mollusks and their eggs. If this method isn’t controlled properly, decollate snails can cause immense damage to endangered snail species or certain plants nearby, so be sure to contact your local department of agriculture for best practices.
Natural predators will also do their fair share in keeping slug and snail numbers down, provided you have a welcoming environment – which usually means no cats or dogs to chase them away.
Some predators known to feast on gastropods include frogs and toads, garter snakes, lizards, hedgehogs, moles, thrushes, blackbirds, magpies, and rooks.
Which brings us to our final tip…