Planting trees and bushes and installing flower beds on your landscape is all fun and games until you catch sight of a dreaded sight – a slimy snail or slug. In most gardens, this icky insect is ubiquitous. Your first instinct may be to run inside and get your salt shaker to bring a hard death to this particular insect, but before you do, let us learn about this insect, whether or not it is a threat to your landscape, and how to go about eliminating it if it is a threat. First, what is the difference between a snail and a slug? A snail is easily identifiable by its protective shell, and to those of us who are not insect experts, that is the only observable difference between a snail and a slug. Both snails and slugs are mollusks and have antennae and eyes, as well as a stretchable body which leaves behind a slimy trail. This sticky substance is an important part of a snail or slug’s existence, since they need to remain moist in order to survive. This slime also helps them move around your landscape. So, are they a threat to your garden beds? The short answer is – YES! Snails and slugs can wreak havoc on your landscape, especially if you have fruit plants or trees, including tomatoes, strawberries, peach trees, etc. However, even if you do not have these specific types of plants in your landscape, you may still experience snails or slugs sliming their way up a garden fence or wall located near your plants, especially when the weather becomes cooler in temperature. One reason slugs and snails can become a huge problem is because they multiply quickly. Slugs and snails are hermaphrodites, which means they can reproduce all on their own. A snail or slug can lay close to 500 eggs in just one season (and by the way, these insects have a life expectancy of about four years, so you definitely want to nip this problem in the bud!) However, if you have your landscape treated prior to or during the warmer months, you can easily combat this prospective snail or slug infestation. So how do you get rid of these mollusks? Well, there is the old salt trick. However, landscaping experts actually discourage this method of elimination because while the snail or slug will surely shrivel up and die, the chemical makeup of the soil in your landscape will also be altered, which can create even more problems. One solution to eliminating these insects without the use of pesticides is beer. Apparently just like humans, they find the smell of beer appealing. They will slime their way into the hopped up mixture and drown. However, the best route is prevention. There are a couple of ways to go here. First, you can remove certain plants from your landscape and replace them with plants that are not has alluring to snails or slugs. If you are committed to keeping fruit plants in your garden, you can look into setting baits and traps previous to the warm climate season. If you are not sure where to find these garden-eating culprits, check inside your basement or crawl space or perhaps a backyard shed. These insects hibernate during the winter months and will often seek refuge inside your home, preferably in a dark, damp area such as a basement. Some of these traps actually use electricity which is beneficial if you are opposed to using chemicals to stop any infestations. There are also pesticides that can be employed. However, sometimes pesticides do not always do the trick and use of them can also harm insects that are beneficial to your landscape, or can also harm family pets or even children who might wander into the garden. If you are not sure which route is best for your landscape, call your local landscaping expert and receive professional advice you can count on!
September 2, 2016