Sneaky snails

Always looking for a spot out of the wet weather, here these snails try to make their way up the slippery side of the fibreglass tank.

Garden snails are like ninjas. They’re silent, they come in the night, and they’re normally gone by the time you see your ravaged plants.

The wet weather seems to bring them out in full force, too. In fleeing the excessive dampness, they gravitate to higher ground. That usually means up any vertical surface. Lately, though, that’s also meant up my precious plants. I’ve found them at the pinnacle of my trellises, on plants, under the rim of flower pots and in all kinds of hidey-holes. They’ve even come into the house!

To most people, that would seem funny and cute, but to this disgruntled gardener, it has meant having good plants stripped of leaves necessary for plant growth.

Like my only white cucumber plant – killed before its prime.

Or up on my struggling burgundy okra plant. If the plant was a camel’s back then the snail was the straw that broke it. The plant has since died out because it lacked the leaves to keep it alive.

I thought this was really cute when I initially took this picture, but that was before the burgundy okra plant started struggling, and I realized the snails were contributing to the problem by consuming the leaves that were keeping the plant alive.

I don’t mind snails when they do what they’re supposed to, namely eat already discarded plant parts. They’re the best above ground decomposers in the garden – and I’m very happy to leave them offerings after doing pruning and weeding. Where I draw the line, however, is when they hurt my living plants. Just look at where I’ve found the latest culprits:

Another baby snail - all the way up the 2-metre high papaya tree! It was evicted immediately after this incriminating photo was taken.

If left alone, that snail could have eaten the flower buds, for all I know. And each papaya flower is especially precious now that our only male papaya tree is gone.

A small snail shares a bittergourd leaf with a caterpillar - more than a metre above ground level!

These shell-less slugs creep me out the most. They're quite flat and are able to hide in small spaces, usually undersides of pots and bricks.

If the snails are starting to seek living food then I think it’s time to cull their population just a little. Snail bait has been laid around the more precious of my surviving plants, and those sneaky snails had better heed the warning to go eat other things! It’s not like there isn’t enough plant matter around for them to feed on, especially after the recent trimming of the lawn and all the bits and pieces of grass, etc. nicely accumulated by the puddling rain. You could say that my live and let live policy only goes so far, so, snails, beware…!

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Sneaky snails — 1 Comment

  1. Tora! Tora! Tora!
    I just zapped one today, clinging on between my papaya fruits!!
    I’d say leave no prisoners!!
    Our plants are facing too many foes these days – the rain, the floods, the grasshoppers and now the slugs and snails.