Snails

Damage caused by snails.

In summer, when the lettuce is growing and the strawberries are in blossom, it is only a matter of time when the first snails are found in the vegetable garden and flower beds. The snails will start eating on the leaves of the plants and carry on devouring them until they die. Snails love a moist environment. When the garden is watered in the evening, then the time has come for the snails make their way to “your” food. It is quite unlikely to find snails during the day as the sun can quickly dry them out and kill them. Snails are night active animals and will only be seen in the evening or in the early morning. The results of their nightly activities can be seen the next day. Slime trails running through the flower beds and eaten vegetables and leaves are a typical sign that snails are present. They are a nuisance that takes the fun out of gardening. Snails only eat the plants above the ground so that the roots need to be removed from the soil before new plants are put in. A laborious task, especially when the snails are back for the second course.

What can I do about snails in the garden?

There are a multiple of remedies for preventing or getting rid of snails, some very unpleasant, some time costly. A daily collection of all snails from the plants is effective on the short-term and environmentally friendly but at the same time very tiresome and on the long run they will be back. The use of chemical pellets is highly effective but a costly method and is mostly used in short-term use. Setting up a fence is not very effective as the small snails will penetrate the fence and the eggs inside the fence will hatch. The locked in snails have nowhere to go and will devour anything they come across. We recommend using the Gardigo Snail Trap as one of the most effective methods of getting rid of snails.

The snail trap is filled to a quarter with beer. The smell of hops and malt has a strong attraction to snails. They will follow the smell and fall into the trap. Because of the special design, once they are in the trap, the snails cannot flee. The snail trap should always be placed at the edge of a flower or vegetable bed. By doing this the snails are lured out of the flower bed. Ideally the Gardigo Snail Traps should be set up at the borders of the garden keeping the whole garden free of snails.

Additional tips on getting rid of snails:

1) All flower beds should be thoroughly raked in spring. By doing so, most of the snails eggs which have survived the winter are destroyed.

2) Water your plants in the morning. Snails are night active animals and love a moist environment. By watering your plants in the morning and not in the evening, the environment becomes drier for the snails at the time when they are most active.

3) Do not plant Marigold near to your vegetable flower beds. This plant is highly attractive to snails.

4) Do not mulch plant remains. These are often damp and ideal feeding and nesting grounds for snails.

5) After the gardening season you should wait with digging up the garden until after the first frost. This prevents the snails from hibernating in the ground and surviving the winter.

Appearance 

Worldwide there are approximately 100,000 different snails. The most common ones in central Europe are the large garden snail and the slug. Snails have a delicate soft body and no bones. Snails protect themselves by building a shell consisting mainly of limestone. Slugs have no shell but many have a leathery surface protecting them. The four retrievable antennas at the head of the slug contain the cells for smell, touch and sight. The size of the slug can be between 2 and 200 mm, depending on the type of slug.

Snails cut up their food with the help of teeth made of horn. The snail moves on the film of slime extracted by a gland on its underside. This slime also protects the snail from injuries on uneven terrain. The snail can crawl across a razor blade without getting hurt.

The life of the snail.

The snail moves with the help of its flattened sole on the underside of its body. The muscle contracts and expands in waveform and allows forward movement. For orientation the snail uses its tentacles. Most species can retract the tentacles when they feel threatened. The sole on the underside of its body is not only used for moving forward but also as a tool for moving and modeling earth. When the snail has found a place to live he will only leave it in search of food and then return to it immediately. At the end of autumn the snails will look for a place to hibernate under moss or in the earth. Hibernation lasts for 3 to 4 months. During this time the snails will not move and they breath extremely slowly, requiring only little air and no food.

Reproduction of the snail.

The snail is a hermaphrodite. Both female and male sexual organs are available in one snail. The mating of the snail is a lengthy process and extends over many hours. First two snails touch by using their antenna and come together with the sole of their body. During this foreplay a hormonal secretion is used, increasing the likelihood of a successful fertilization by the sperm. The foreplay also determines which snail is female and which is male. For a successful mating several transfers of the sperm are necessary. The eggs of the snail are then lain into the earth for hatching.