A Bit of Snail History
Before we learn ways to deal with snails in your farm, let us first get a bit of their history. These slow-moving creatures pertain thousands of types. The snails are close in appearance to slugs. The only difference is that slugs are snails without shells. The ones mostly found in the garden are loosely defined as shelled gastropods. The brown garden snails are known as Cornu aspersum.
This brown slimy scourge requires a semi-moist environment, well hidden from the sun to survive. Although they are mostly nocturnal, they are mostly active on damp and rainy days. We look at a number of ways to keep these snails out of your gardens.
There are management approaches that are biologically friendly while others are outright sinister. It is advisable to lean towards the biological control measures.
Where do Snails Thrive?
The snails are most active during the foggy, cloudy and rainy days. Snails thrive in a damp environment, safe from the sunlight and feed on a wide variety of living or decaying plant matter. As observed, they leave behind a trail that lets you know they have visited your farm.
Effect of Snails to your vegetation
They are feared for their radula- a tongue of a thousand tiny teeth. They scrape this tongue over the smooth edges to shred up parts of your plants. This causes irregular shaped holes and chips to the outermost surface. They are a costly burden, chewing on a wide variety of plants like the outside layer of fruit.
They also feed on succulents, herbs, seedlings, turf grass and decaying plant matter. Their favorite include basil, lettuce, beans and cabbage. When you grow these susceptible plants, ensure the soil around is dry to make them uncomfortable.
Ways To Deal With Snails
Create harsh environment for snails
They tend to shy away from highly scented, ornamental grass and ornamental woody plants. So one environmentally friendly way to keep them at way is to landscape or plant crops they are not attracted to. Among these are hydrangea, cyclamen, ferns, rosemary, sage and lavender.
Utilize their nutrition value as food
According to me, the best way is to turn your problem into a meal! Sounds icky! I know. However, they are a delicacy in some parts of the world like in Africa and France. Apparently, they are tender, tasty, and protein-dense, with low fat and cholesterol.
They contain almost all the amino acids needed by the body. Do not eat them raw as they contain parasites. Feel free to google recipes on how to prepare this delicacy.
Destroy their possible hideouts
Check on specific places that are a potential for hideouts. Eliminate the spots that might be a haven for snails. Cut down tall weeds and clear loose organic debris. As for moisture, opt for drip or soaker-tube irrigation methods rather than sprinkler irrigation.
This reduces the moist areas, as the water gets closer to the roots making the surface drier. Another plus is to irrigate in the morning hours to allow the soil to dry in the daytime.
Biological methodology to deal with snails
A time-honoured biological method that seems interesting is chicken for snails while ducks relish slugs. With minimal supervision, in the wee hours of the morning, allow them to feast on these pests.
You can also introduce predatory dellocate snails to control herbivorous snails that annihilate gardens. These snail types can be differentiated from brown snails. Their conical shells grow about 2-2.5 inches long and are known to feed on all types of molluscs as well as their young i.e. their eggs.
They live in the leaf mulch, underneath rocks and in the first inches of the moist top soil, during the day. Then progressively become active as dusk sets in and begin the hunt for slugs and snails.
Microscopic worms or parasitic nematodes
Another option is microscopic worms or parasitic nematodes that feed on slugs. Their use is limited to Europe, as they are unregistered for use in most continents.
Use traditional methods
One primitive tedious method is handpicking. It might not be effective for large farms. Pick them out on a daily basis to reduce the numbers, place them in an empty container and relocate them about 20 meters away.
Although it is rumoured that they have a natural homing instinct, they are less likely to find their way back. Set humane snail traps and barriers. Regularly check the undersides for snails and relocate them if any.
Use snail repellents like copper pellets
Use copper pellets as snail repellents. Their mucus secretions have a chemical reaction to copper. They experience shock when they come into contact caused by a misfiring in their nervous system. Also, use copper foil, screens or banding.
Use salt to kill snails
Another way to wade off these critters that is very common especially enjoyed by little boys is using salt. These molluscs are made up of a great deal of water with membranes that are more permeable compared to those of other animals. Salt poured on them will cause osmosis to occur.
Here, water passes from one region of high water concentration through a semi-permeable membrane to a region of lower concentration. Large amounts of fluid rush to the surface from the membranes to dilute the salt content and re-establish equilibrium.
Monitor the amount of organic salt used. It increases salinity of the soil, dehydrates plants, reduces yields and may result in plant death. Opt for inorganic salt that is, one without a carbon-hydrogen bond to reduce harm for plant as well as soil.
Use chemical methods to cope with snails
Met aldehyde-based poisons are the chemical approach to slug and snail control. They are a risk to people and wildlife as well as pets so they should be used carefully.
An environmentally friendly option to deal with snails is iron phosphate-based snail and slug baits. Although some purists reject their claim, some agriculturists have approved them for organic agriculture.