Snails and slugs are fascinating creatures that are unique in several ways. They are not insects but are the only ones of their kind to roam the land– literally. As interesting as these organisms are, slugs and snails are also a nuisance for gardens and yards so it is sometimes necessary to get rid of them. Learn more about snails and slugs, their appearance, habits, and how to effectively get rid of them.
Snails and slugs are very similar to each other and have only one factor that differentiates them: snails have shells and slugs do not. With that out of the way, slugs and snails are NOT insects– they are gastropods. Belonging to the Mollusca phylum and the Gastropoda class, snails and slugs are the only gastropods that can live on land.
These invertebrate animals are known for their soft bodies, slimy trails, and long, flat, slimy organs they use to move called a foot.They are hermaphrodites which means they are not male or female so any snail or slug can reproduce. They lay clusters of eggs that look like small white balls. Slugs and snails have been around for over 500 million years and are found all over the world which makes them highly adaptable to different climates and food sources.
Like mentioned previously, snails and slugs are highly adaptable to different climates and food sources. Generally speaking though, most species of snails and slugs are herbivores and feed off of various plants, fruits, vegetables and algae. They can go an extended amount of time without food but rely on water to survive.
Snails and slugs are present mostly at night, in the early morning, and on cloudy or rainy days during spring. They are sensitive to heat so they seek shelter during the day in gardens, on rocks, or in other shaded and cool areas.
These gastropods can cause significant damage to plants, flowers, and fruits or vegetables that are close to the ground like strawberries, artichoke, lettuce, beans, tomatoes, and more. They chew irregular holes with smooth edges. Since a few insects create similar holes, the easiest way to figure out if a snail or slug is responsible for the holes in your garden is to look for the silvery mucus trails that they leave behind. Learn more about bugs that ruin your yard.
Getting Rid of Snails and Slugs
There are many options when it comes to getting rid of snails and slugs in your yard.
Pick them: in the early morning, after the sun goes down, or during rainy days is the ideal time to remove slugs and snails from your yard since this is when they are out most. First, get a bucket of soapy water. Then, search for them in your garden and around other areas of high vegetation. Once you pick them, drop them into the bucket of soapy water. Squishing them is not recommended because it may attract other pests to the area.
Eliminate their shelters: Get rid of any boards, rocks, dying plants where they take shelter and hide during the hot, sunny days.
Get rough barriers: Since they slide to move, getting barriers that make their movement difficult will get rid of snails and slugs. Such barriers include copper tubing, crushed eggshells, sawdust, or powdered ginger.
Get plants with strong aromas: plants with strong aromas like lavender, rosemary and sage will keep slugs and snails away because they dislike such strong scents.
Make a beer trap: Interestingly, slugs and snails are attracted to beer. Pour some beer into a container than bury the container so that the top of it is level with the ground. Overnight, slugs and snails will slide toward the beer trap and will eventually drown.
Buy chemical products and baits: There are various chemical products and baits that can be used to effectively dehydrate and ultimately eliminate snails and slugs. They come in different forms including powders, liquids, pellets, and granules which have different instructions. One thing to keep in mind is that these commercial products can be very harmful to children and pets as well as birds and other wildlife so, unless you are willing to pay close attention to the chemicals, you should consider another method of elimination.
If you have other ways to effectively eliminate snails and slugs that we missed, let us know!