The Q&A Archives: Snails

Question: I have snails in the red apple iceplant, Rosemary iceplant, Roses, perennials, freeway daiseys, bulbs and shrubs. Is there any benefit to having snails anywhere? Do they eliminate any bugs or disease? What is the best way to eliminate snails in a densely planted area of iceplant without harming the plants?

Answer: I can't think of a single reason for snails in the garden. While I'm sure they have a purpose in the food chain (predacious ground beetles eat their eggs), they are in no way beneficial to our gardens so eliminating - or at least reducing their populations - is a common practice all over the country. There are several environmentally friendly ways of dealing with snails and slugs. You can try to deter them by putting a barrier around your plants. Copper strips are expensive, but effective. You can also use crushed egg shells or diatomaceous earth around the stems of your plants. If you can sprinkle dry soil around the stems, that will deter them, too. Another way to lower the population is to go out at night with a flashlight and harvest any snails you see. If you eliminate hiding places in your garden, they may go elsewhere to feast. Remove any plant debris that might provide moisture and shade for the critters. You can set up a trap by inverting a terra-cotta flower pot in your garden, propping it up with a stone so the snails will crawl under and into it. In the morning, remove the collection of snails that you find hiding in the trap. There are chemical means of control as well; Sluggo is an iron based bait which is safe to use around edible plants; Cory's Slug bait contains metaldehyde which can be used in ornamental and veggie gardens as long as the chemical does not come in contact with the edible parts of the veggie plants.

Hope these suggestions help!

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