Snail eradication (day 2).

This was another early morning out in the garden picking snails. It was, however, markedly yuckier than yesterday's foray.

First, to those who have recommended alternate strategies for dissuading the gastropods, I've done the copper tape before. It seemed to help a little, but it was far from perfect -- some of the snails seemed not to mind getting a charge out of sliding across the copper. I think we may have a bit of copper tape in the garage. Perhaps I'll put it along the perimeter of our raised beds.

The drowning-in-beer strategy we have tried. Each time, a few slugs and snails have ended up drowned, but most of the snails seem to have drunk and oozed on their way (not always in a straight line, judging by the slime trails). Not only do I feel foolish buying beer for my garden pests to drink in between savaging my plants, but given the current gastropod population of my yard, I'd need to buy them a keg.

That's not going to happen.

At this stage in the eradication, we're finding as many snails and slugs as we can, picking them off the plants they're on, and killing them in a bucket of salt. It is not pretty (and no, I'm not posting a photo of the Bucket of Doom), but it's effective.

This morning, though, we hit a couple of snags. First, the bucket was already half filled from yesterday's slimy harvest. And second, by the time we'd picked the first 200 snails, we had run out of salt. But since there were still many, many more snails and slugs, we had to make it work. So, we ended up having to stop periodically to stir the bucket, making sure each gastropod came in contact with salt.

If I were ever commissioned to make the most disturbing Rice Krispies treats ever, I'm pretty sure I know how to do it.

Today's take: in excess of 500 snails, and about 200 slugs. I am so looking forward to the day when it is easy to count the snails.

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Another morning, another gastropod foray. Conditions in the yard were a little odd this morning, owing to the fact that our wee patch of lawn was watered last night. This means that conditions were moist in the vicinity of the lawn but fairly dry otherwise. Strangely, the lawn itself was not…
Well, it was another dry morning in the back yard. And I was sufficiently busy with other stuff yesterday afternoon that I did not have a chance to set up any beery gastropod watering holes. So the pickings today were predictably slim. Not only were most of the plants and planting areas free of…
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I take it you're not a fan of escargot? Admittedly, you don't want to cook the buggers straight from the gardenâeither starve them or feed them corn meal for a week or so beforehand to clean out their gutsâbut if you've got the right species they can be quite tasty. As such, you should think of your garden as a snail farm! The veggies are there to ensure the snails grow up strong and healthy.

Being a vegetarian, as the good Doctor is, I've asked myself the question, without following through to an answer, of where I fall on the ethics of selling escargot to foodies from my garden when I would otherwise just slaughter them. At least someone would benefit. Which would make me worse, being a snail sadist or the Frank Purdue of snails?

By Wilson Heath (not verified) on 10 May 2009 #permalink

If something (edible) is eating your veggies, why not eat them? It's not the same as eating a ranched or hunted animal, nor is it the start of a slippery slope. (A slimy slope, perhaps�)

Whilst I myself am an omnivore, I don't see what the problem is with a veggie eating a veggie eater? (At least in this specific case, for approach values of âveggieâ.) They are not worried about eating your foodâif they are doing anything besides eating, sleeping, and having sex, they're probably thanking you for all the yummy fresh food.

The SoCal solution is decollate snails
But the state Dept. of Fish and Game prohibits them in NorCal b/c it could hurt endangered land mollusks. Not sure what species it could hurt exactly or if the decollates would compete with them or eat them.

One more comment, you can also use soapy water to dispose of snails and slugs instead of salt. Use a dish soap that is phosphate free and then add the demised snails/slugs/soap to your compost pile!

Some friends of mine had problems with slugs in their garden. Their main approach was simply to kill them whenever they came across one - usually with the sharp edge of a trowel. They had some success with nematodes, too. Probably a bit late for you, but might be worth considering for next year.

They also encouraged hedghogs in their garden. I guess that's not an option for you but are there any native fauna which might do a similar job for you?

Hello from a fellow veggie -- I'm curious about how exactly you reason the snail-killing out ethically alongside the vegetarianism. Does the fact that there's simply no other workable way to deal with the pests mean the benefits of killing them outweigh the ethical problems? Does the fact that they're molluscs make a big difference? Would you kill mice if they were pests in your house? If you wanted to eat snails, would you? Or maybe the not-wanting-to-kill-animals thing is a relatively small factor in your vegetarianism? There are several interesting issues here that I hadn't really thought about before... one thing I'm sure of: ethics entirely aside, I hope I never have to kill snails in a garden, because it sounds like a truly horrible job!

I've used "live traps" for mice but have yet to find them in snail or slug sizes.

By Wilson Heath (not verified) on 11 May 2009 #permalink

Wow - that's quite the mollusk infestation you have there.