A Little Bit About Snails..
Originally introduced from France as a source of food to humans in the 1850’s, snails and slugs are now one of the biggest pests and can do much damage to a garden or landscape. Snails and slugs are biologically similar, except snails possess an external shell. They travel by gliding along a muscular “foot,” which emits a constant mucus.
Both males and females have the ability to lay eggs because all land snails and slugs are hermaphrodites. The most common snail in California, the Brown Garden Snail, can lay an average of 80 white eggs at one time, up to 6 times a year. Two years after being born, a snail will reach maturity.
Snails and slugs are most active at night or during days of clouds or fog and seek places to hide during sunny, warm days.
Snails and slugs can be active year-round if in areas with mild winters, such as southern, coastal locations. If cold weather is present, snails and slugs will hibernate in the topsoil. In hot, dry, and cold climates, snails will attach themselves to walls or tree trunks and seal themselves with a membrane.
Primarily pests of seedlings and herbaceous plants, snails and slugs can also do serious damage to ripening fruits that are close to the ground such as strawberries, artichokes, and tomatoes. They will gnaw irregular holes in leaves and flowers. They also clip the succulent parts of a plant and chew on fruit and young plant bark. Foliage and some fruit trees can also be damaged, especially citrus trees.
It is important to look for a snail and slug’s mucous trail to confirm that they are indeed the pest that is causing damage to your plants, trees, or fruit and not earwigs, caterpillars, and other chewing insects.
Although sometimes it is impossible to do so, try to eliminate places in which snails and slugs can hide during the day, such as weedy areas around tree trunks, branches growing close to the ground, stones, boards, debris, and dense ground covers such as ivy.
Reducing hiding places in vegetable gardens will limit a snail and slug populations’ survival. The ones that do survive will be easily located in the possible “hiding spots” which then can be discovered and removed.
Switching from sprinkler irrigation to drip irrigation can make habitats less dense and less desirable for snails and slugs. Plant selection can also determine how much damage will be done by these pests. Snails and slugs love seedlings and succulent foliage, including cabbage, basil, lettuce, marigolds, strawberries, and other vegetables. Snails and slugs do not do damage (if at all) to plants such as California poppy, geraniums, begonias, and many plants with stiff leaves and high-scented foliage such as rosemary, lavender, and sage. Wood plants and ornamental grasses will also not be seriously affected by these pests.
Creating a barrier around your plants is a possible solution for gaining protection from damage caused by snails or slugs. Wilco’s Snail and Slug Gel is an organic solution to managing snail and slug infestations. Made with all-natural ingredients, this solution is colorless, odorless, and non-toxic. Simply form a continuous barrier completely enclosing the area requiring treatment. You may apply directly onto any hard surface or soils, around planters, pots, tubs, and specific target plants. It can also be used n vertical surfaces to protect entrances to external doorways, hanging baskets, and similar locations. Gel is effective in both dry and wet environmental conditions and will last for up to two weeks after applying. It is available in 1 L (1.06 QUART) for 50m/54.7 yards of barrier. Please read label for specific details. For more information, call 800.769.5040 or visit www.wilcodistributors.com.
Some Information provided by University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources
Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7427.html