Ask a Question forum: Snails in cold weather?

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Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
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joannakat
Apr 3, 2018 12:05 PM CST
Hi all,

Something is munching on the tips of my tulips which have just now begun to poke through the topsoil. I can't tell if it's starving bunnies or snails. No one is munching on the daffodils though....

I know the bunnies can look for food in freezing temps, but do snails? It is still a bit below freezing here most nights.

AKA Joey.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Apr 3, 2018 12:14 PM CST
You have snails? I have never seen a slug or snail here. Maybe its too dry. Nothing will eat a daffodil but tulips are a different bulb all together. Our local bunnies not only munch the tops but dig up the bulbs and eat them too.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
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joannakat
Apr 3, 2018 12:48 PM CST
DaisyI said:You have snails? I have never seen a slug or snail here. Maybe its too dry.


Yes.
AKA Joey.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents Adeniums Sempervivums
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plantmanager
Apr 3, 2018 1:08 PM CST
Daisy, I've never had a slug or snail in AZ or NM. I think it is too dry for them. I sure saw a lot of them when I'd visit relatives in Washington state.
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Name: Elena
NYC (Zone 7a)
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bxncbx
Apr 3, 2018 1:31 PM CST
I have the same problem with my tulips! As soon as they came up something started eating the tops! We don't have bunnies in the city. I do have slugs/snails in the backyard but the pine needles and general lack of moisture in the front yard keeps them away. But the tulips in the front have been nibbled too! At this point the only thing I can think of is squirrels. Now I've never seen a squirrel anywhere near them but if it isn't them then I have no idea what is causing the damage. The good news is it seems that once the leaves come up more whatever it is leaves them alone. I even have an undisturbed bud on one in the backyard. There's just something about the new grow whatever it is likes. As the leaves get older they must get tough or unpalatable.
Name: Jane
Tobyhanna, PA (Zone 5a)
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PAgirl63
Apr 3, 2018 1:40 PM CST
Do you have deer where you live? Tulips are like candy for them. Crying
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
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joannakat
Apr 3, 2018 7:25 PM CST
Elena, that sound like what's going on here.

Jane, we do have deer, but only one in every tight bunch of three or more tulips have been eaten, and it's just the very tips of those. If it were deer, wouldn't the damage be worse, or at least wouldn't more of the tulips be eaten?

I'll try to post a picture tomorrow or Thursday. I just have no idea what would do this!
AKA Joey.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
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joannakat
Apr 8, 2018 6:15 PM CST
Okay, I think I've figured out what bit the tops of my emerging tulips.

I just saw a very weathered-looking groundhog waddling away from my backyard area. I read that they don't really eat or like tulips, but are apt to bite the tops off in the hopes of finding insects. That would explain why the bitten-off parts were on the ground next to the remaining parts.

I also read that they hibernate until around April in our area, which would explain the poor thing's being outside now. It's been unseasonably cold with lots of snow so I'm guessing that food is scarce. It was waddling and not moving fast, maybe on the verge of having babies?

Well, mystery solved.
AKA Joey.

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