100 hungry snails

Posted: Friday 2 May 2014
by Kate Bradbury

I've just taken a pot filled with 100 hungry snails to the wildlife area of my local park. I've had enough of them.

Pot of snails

I've just taken a pot filled with 100 hungry snails to the wildlife area of my local park. I’d had enough: just yesterday I was thinking how healthy and robust my mountain cornflower, Centaurea montana, was looking, that it would flower imminently and I would soon see the bottoms of lots of happy bees as they wiggled among the blooms drinking nectar and gathering pollen.

Today my Centaurea montana resembles a lace doily. The emerging flowers are drooping and covered in snail goo, and the remaining shreds of leaves are stuck together as if in some vague last-ditch attempt to protect themselves. That was some party the snails had on my cornflower last night.  

I gathered up the culprits, which were smugly sheltering beneath the dregs of the poor plant, and then I gathered up some more. I ran my hand around the sides of plant pots, the compost bin and compost bags, I poked snails out of the trellis, removed them from the birds’ fat ball feeder (revolting) and fished them out of the two sheep skulls (also revolting). I didn’t stop until I had 100. That’s 100 snails in a garden no bigger than your average garage.

Much to the amusement of my neighbours, I took my pot to the park and settled the snails into their new home: a log pile. I like to think the local song thrushes are having a field day.

I hold no grudges against snails, and value them as an important cog in the garden ecosystem. But sometimes there are just too many of them. Being at the bottom of the food chain they have lots of predators, including frogs, field mice and song thrushes. But the frogs and mice in my garden seem happy to eat other creatures at the bottom of the food chain, and the chances of me attracting a song thrush are virtually nil. There are song thrushes in the wildlife area of the local park, however, and there are also probably more field mice and large frogs than you could squeeze into my garden.

I found a few slugs as I was trawling for snails. These are welcome to stay. Something (probably the frogs) keeps slug numbers in check. And anything that does eat snails won’t go hungry – I could easily have gathered twice as many so there are plenty left to eat. I just hope I’ve done enough to protect my cornflower. I do hope to see some bee bottoms wiggling in its blooms.

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: 100 hungry snails
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

oldchippy 02/05/2014 at 15:50

so the truth is out Kate you throw your slug and snails in some else's garden,100% recycling.have a good bank holiday I hope they don't come back.

Clarington 02/05/2014 at 15:53

It would have been interesting to mark them with nail polish or some such and seen how many (and how quickly they) returned.

KEF 02/05/2014 at 16:08

Would have been more fun to stamp on them. I'll get my coat

Bal 02/05/2014 at 16:28

I love hostas and so obviously hate snails and slugs but I just can't bring myself to kill them. I bet they do come back. I will mark with them with nail polish and see

ighten 02/05/2014 at 17:27

They'll come back..probably with a full pedicure and 6 mates

See more comments...