Snails are soft-bodied animals that slide along on a muscular foot that looks like they crawl around on their stomach.
Like slugs, they secrete a slimy substance called mucus that cushions their movement and protects their bodies from being scratched.
Unlike slugs, they have tough shells that serve as a protective covering to withdraw into and stay safe and alive for many years.
Signs of a Snail Infestation
Like slugs, the snail often goes for tender plant growth but is known to eat roots, stems, and fruits. They appear to be the most active during early spring when there are lots of new sprouts.
They are also nocturnal feeders, so the signs of their infestation might not be easy to see.
However, it becomes easier to tell when you have a snail infestation if you know what to look for.
Here are some signs:
- Silvery deposits on leaves, stems, soil, and hard surface
- Irregular holes in plant tissues
- Plant damage like large, ragged holes in tender leaves and flowers
- Seedling leaves that are nearly consumed.
When looking for them, you want to look in leaf litter, woodpiles, dead vegetation, bricks, stones, yard equipment, outdoor faucets, and plumbing.
You may also find some snail eggs if you look closely. Pay close attention to areas with possible leaks or standing water. You also want to look for feeding damages in any plants in your garden or around your home.
What Draws Snails to My Garden?
There is rarely a garden without a snail or two because snails are part of the landscape too. The reason for that is that gardens often have a lot of things that they thrive on.
Moisture is one such thing.
As a matter of fact, snails lose as much as 8% of their body weight every hour that they crawl on trails. The reason is that they secrete mucus, and that requires some water. The less dry the environment, the less slime it needs to move around.
They rarely survive after prolonged exposure to high temperatures without water. That is why they always look for damp areas or areas with water. If your garden is full of moist, wet areas, then it will most likely be a favorite haunting place for them.
If your garden does not have any of the natural predators of these pests, then it becomes a place of refuge in that area. The kind of plants you have in your garden can also make them stay in your garden.
As a general rule, snails are attracted to the types of plants that we love to eat.
So if you grow peas, lettuce, cabbage, and citrus, you are most likely to have a problem with snails.
The kind of soil you have in your garden can also be attractive to snails.
Acidic soils are deficient in the calcium that snails need for their shells. Snails are drawn to well-limed grounds that are rich in probiotic bacteria because these bacteria aid the digestion of the decaying matter that snails love so much.
So if you have any in your garden, you can be sure that you are open to a snail infestation.
Snails often prefer to mate in the late spring and early summer after which they find a place to lay their eggs. Snails and slugs are often drawn to other snails during the mating season.
Why Do I Need to Get Rid Of Snails?
Snails and slugs are ruthless pests that can easily damage or even kill your plants within days.
If they are not eating up the leaves they are under the soil feeding on the roots. Snails and slugs often opt for seedlings, succulents, and herbs. They will gladly eat up your ornamentals plants and fruits like strawberries, tomatoes, and citrus fruits, and tree barks (among others).
Granted, snails and slugs don’t pose any physical danger to people.
But they can have a destructive effect in and around the home. Especially when you are not quick to see them in gardens and flowerbeds.
Here are some reasons why you need to get rid of slugs and snails.
- They reduce crop yield by causing damage to the crops.
- They destroy water features and are known to kill fish in decorative ponds and water features.
- They can also short your electronics and obstruct pond or pool filters and pipes.
- They are disease vectors that often host parasites and can pose health risks
- They are not exactly easy on the eyes, and their damage can make things look bad.
How Do I Get Rid of Snails Naturally?
There are different ways of getting rid of these pests. Snails and slugs.
However, most people prefer natural methods because they are eco-friendly, less expensive, and often do not need help.
Here are some ways that you can get rid of them naturally:
You could use copper tape as a natural barrier that keeps snails and slugs out of your home and garden. Copper causes electric shocks when they come in contact with it.
All you need to do is place a strip of copper on the ground and the areas you intend to keep snails and slugs away from.
If you can’t find strips, make sure you sprinkle copper fragments on these areas.
Copper is one of the best methods used in getting rid of snails and slugs.
You could also opt to use abrasive substances to get rid of snails and slugs around your house.
Abrasive substances like eggshells, gravel, woodchip, sandpaper, and lava rock have uneven edges that impede the movement of snails and slugs. They are affordable and easy to apply in the garden.
You could also use diatomaceous earth (DE).
Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder that is also great for eliminating snails and slugs.
Made from fossilized diatoms, diatomaceous earth has jagged edges that impede the movements of snails. Sometimes the edges are sharp enough to cut them, and once well-distributed, they can scare off even the most stubborn snails and slugs from the areas where it is applied.
The only downside with diatomaceous is that you might need to constantly re-apply these substances.
Use Natural Predators
Every living organism has natural predators.
Slugs and snails are not exempt from this rule as they have several natural predators that you could use to reduce the number of snails and slugs around naturally.
Birds are a great option.
You could attract birds by setting up a birdbath to attract birds.
The birds can then feed on the garden snails. You could also opt for Decollate snails which feed on the brown garden snails in particular.
Other natural predators that you might want to use to eliminate snails and slugs are chicken, geese, ducks, turkeys, frogs, beetles, and nematodes.
Using natural predators is one of the best methods used by people with kids and pets around.
With this natural method, you need to get up very early in the morning to search for them.
Armed with a pair of garden gloves and a flashlight you can then proceed to remove those that you see in and about your garden.
When searching for these pests, you want to start with the cooler, wet and dark areas which are their favorite haunts. You can find them or their eggs if you check these areas at night or in the morning. You could sprinkle some salt on them afterward.
You could use bran.
Bran (the wheat or corn variety)causes snails and slugs to swell up and die after being eaten.
It’s cheap and safe to use around the areas where snails and slugs are frequent. You may need to constantly re-apply it every other morning, though.
How Do I Stop Snails Eating My Plants?
It takes a lot of effort and time to grow plants.
It can be pretty heartbreaking to have pests eat your plants after all that hard work and commitment. If you have noticed ragged leaves full of holes, then the odds are that you have a snail problem. Thankfully you can stop all that.
You could get professional help or use any of the following methods:
Barriers and Repellents
Using barriers and repellants will help steer them away from your garden or potted plants.
One of the best materials for this is copper.
Strategically position copper strips or figments where you find snail activity. You could also use coarse substances like diatomaceous earth, ashes, eggshells, lava rock, sandpaper, and coffee as barriers. Ginger, sage, mint, vinegar or garlic are often repellants or to kill snails.
A combination of these substances impedes the movement of snails and can be used to kill them. Eggshells may not be attractive to have on your ground but they get the job done.
Try A Snail Trap
Another great pest control method for slugs and snails is to trap them.
You could buy a trap at the store or use a homemade one like a bear trap or the inverted grapefruit halves to lure slugs and snails away from your plants, after which you trap them. You could use beer to trap snails because they love the yeast in beer.
For beer traps, put some beer in a shallow bowl or jar.
Dig a small hole in the ground in an area where they frequent. Put the container of beer in the hole. The yeast in the beer attracts the slugs and snails, and when they get to the container, they try to get some of the beer, and they end up drowning in the process. You then remove the dead pests later on.
Snail traps are inexpensive and can be used when you want to avoid the other more poisonous ways to get rid of these pests. You might need to reset them often, and they might take a lot more time.
That said traps are one of the best ways to reduce slugs and snails numbers.
You Could Pick Up The Snails
While this might not be the most effective method, it is a reliable and cheap pest control method.
All you need is to be mindful of the areas around your plants. This allows you to detect the presence of the snails so that you can pick them before they eat your plants.
Try Using Bait
Snail bait comes in dry and liquid forms.
You may use liquid iron phosphate, which draws and kills them.
You could also use dry bait like methiocarb and metaldehyde.
The downside of chemical-based snail bait is that they are harmful to humans and other animals. You may use bait to effectively control the snail population in your yard.
Alter Your Watering Schedule/Methods
You may also want to change how you water the soil in your garden.
Altering your watering schedule is another great way to stop them from eating your plants. The idea is to water your plants only in the morning.
This makes the garden area a lot drier after sunset when they come out to feed. You could also opt for the drip irrigation method instead of the sprinkler because it reduces the humidity and moist places in your garden area.
Introduce Natural Predators
You could let in chickens, geese, predatory snails, and ducks in your garden to feed on the garden snail population.
Other creatures that you could use to keep garden snails away from your plants include tortoises, turtles, frogs, toads, snakes, newts, salamanders, hedgehogs, beetles, nematodes, and birds.
This is another great pest control method for slugs too because it uses natural means. Make sure you don’t have more predators than pests in that area.
Use Snail-Resistant Plants
Certain plant species are resistant to snails.
You could strategically grow them to form a hedge that to protect the snail-prone plants.
It is a natural, safe, and affordable pest control method that happens to be one of the best ways to get rid of these pests.
Try growing the following:
Killing the Snails
You could keep slugs and snails off your plants by killing them.
If you opt to do it manually, the best time would be in the evening, and the right tools include gloves or tweezers. If that’s not your thing, you could use salt.
Salt absorbs water from their bodies, thus dehydrating and killing them. All you need to do is to sprinkle some salt directly on them. Table salt is good although some experts recommend Epsom salt.
Garlic can also be used to kill them too.
Just mix some of it with water to create a solution that you can sprinkle on them.
Crushing their eggs is another way to go.
You could opt for chemicals like iron phosphate, alum, bleach, potassium permanganate, and metaldehyde. However, you want to be careful when you use chemicals, especially if you have kids and pets.
Do Coffee Grounds Deter Snails?
Yes, they do.
Using coffee grounds is another great natural way to manage them.
Coffee grounds have a bitter taste that snails find distasteful.
You can spray some coffee grounds on the soil in your garden to keep them away from those areas. There are reports that you can kill a snail if you spray a solution made from caffeine on it.
So you might want to buy a caffeine-based spray or make one yourself.
You can then apply it to the place where you find snail activity. You could even spray the caffeine solution on the plants or directly on them too. You may have to spray the coffee grounds sparingly as they are known to be bad for pets.
How Do I Keep Snails Out Of My House?
To understand how to keep the snail or slug out of your house, you need to understand what attracts these pests in the first place.
Both pests have slimy, moist bodies, so they prefer areas that will keep them away from the sun when looking for food and shelter.
So if you have shaded areas around your house that happen to be cool and damp, then your home is prone to a snail infestation.
They also have various food choices, including living plants, rotting wood chips, crops, and plant leaves. You are likely to have these slimy pests in the house if you have any of the following plants:
Now that you know what draws them to your house, here are some tips on keeping them out.
Block All Entry Points
You’d need to spot all the entry points into your house.
Like the slug, snails are pretty good climbers, so you want to pay attention to your balconies. One great way to find the entry points of snails into your house is to discover and trace dried slime trails to the entry points. Most times, these entry points would be gaps around your windows, doors, and foundations.
Remove Snail Dens
Certain areas of your house might serve as dens for pests like the slug or snail.
You want to cut back tall weeds and grasses because they provide shade. You also want to get rid of loose organic debris from your yard. You should be looking to eliminate anything that can produce a cool, dark, damp hiding place.
Grow Snail-resistant VegetationAround the House
One of the best ways to keep pests like the snail and the slug out of the house is to grow snail-resistant plants around your home.
These include aromatic plants, ornamental woody plants, and ornamental grasses. When you grow plants like Poppy, Hydrangea, Lantana, and California Poppy around areas prone to snail infestations you control the movement of these pests.
Other plants include:
The snail and slug are an essential part of our ecosystem and environment. Their activities help to offer a balance that affects complex food chains and whatnot. They clean up debris, and their fecal matter is a nitrogen-rich, mineral-laden fertilizer that is great for the soil.
On the flip side, these small pests can be more destructive than larger pests when their numbers are out of control.
They love young sprouts and are agile enough to find their way up flowering plants to eat flower buds. They can climb fruit trees to feed on ripening fruit when they are not stripping the bark of young trees or eating up holes through leaves. Like the slug, a snail can eat up roots that are under the ground too.
It even gets worse.
Snails are hosts to many pathogens, and tons of people often contract diseases from contact with them. There are also the economic implications of snail infestations which make snails certified pests.
This article provides a guide on natural and chemical ways to eliminate slugs and snails so that you don’t have to experience any of the destruction that they are known for.
Thankfully, you could also get rid of slugs with the same range of methods that includes a lot from crushed eggshells, a beer trap to chemicals.
You could use the pest control methods described in this guide to control and even kill these slimy pests before they cause damage to your home.
Knowing how to get rid of snails is one thing. Using the information effectively is another. You may need some professional help to help you optimize what you just read.