Both Snails and Slugs are members of the mollusk phylum and are similar in structure and biology, except slugs lack the snail’s external, spiral shell. These mollusks move by gliding along on a muscular “foot.” This muscle constantly secretes mucus, which facilitates their movement and later dries to form the silvery “slime trail” that signals the presence of either pest.
All land Snails and Slugs are hermaphrodites, so all have the potential to lay eggs. Adult brown garden snails lay an average of 80 spherical, pearly white eggs at a time into a hole in the soil. They can lay eggs up to 6 times a year, and it takes about 2 years for snails to mature. Slugs reach maturity after about 3 to 6 months, depending on the species, and lay clear, oval to round eggs in batches of 3 to 40 beneath leaves, in soil cracks, and in other protected areas.
Snails and slugs are most active at night and on cloudy or foggy days. On sunny days they seek hiding places out of the heat and bright light. Often the only clues to their presence are their silvery trails and plant damage. In areas with mild winters, such as southern coastal locations, snails and slugs can be active throughout the year.
During cold weather, snails and slugs hibernate in the topsoil. During hot, dry periods or when it is cold, snails seal themselves off with a parchment-like membrane and often attach themselves to tree trunks, fences, or walls.
Tips For Control
A good Snail and Slug management program relies on a combination of methods. The first step is to eliminate, as much as possible, all places where they can hide during the day. Boards, stones, debris, weedy areas around tree trunks, leafy branches growing close to the ground, and dense ground covers such as ivy are ideal sheltering spots. It won’t be possible to eliminate some shelters such as low ledges on fences, the undersides of wooden decks, and water meter boxes.
Plant selection can greatly affect how difficult your battle with snails and slugs will be. Because snails and slugs favor seedlings and plants with succulent foliage, you will need to vigilantly protect these. Some of the plants that these pests will seriously damage include basil, beans, cabbage, dahlia, delphinium, hosta, lettuce, marigolds, strawberries, and many other vegetable plants. On the other hand, many plants resist snail and slug damage including begonias, California poppy, fuchsias, geraniums, impatiens, lantana, nasturtiums, and purple robe cup flower as well as many plants with stiff leaves and highly scented foliage such as lavender, rosemary, and sage. Most ornamental, woody plants, and ornamental grasses also aren’t seriously affected. If you design your landscape using snail and slug resistant plants, you are likely to have very limited damage.
AAI can help you stay on top of your Snail and Slug battle! Talk to your technician the next time he’s out or call our office today to add a Snail and Slug treatment to your regular service. You’ll be glad you did.