Snails

Save your crops and perennials from snail damage, with our simple tips on preventing them from feeding.

Time to act:

Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov

Snails, like slugs, cause a great deal of damage to plants. They feed mostly at night, seeking shelter during the day from the drying effects of the sun. However, the snail's shell allows it to move more freely than a slug over dry areas, such as paving. It too, leaves a tell-tale trail of slime at the scene of the crime.

Symptoms

Irregular holes chewed in leaves, stems eaten away and the plant collapses, flowerbuds and seedlings eaten, seeds fail to grow having been eaten as soon as they germinated.

Find it on

most plants, seedlings, young plants

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Organic

Snails mostly feed at night; mild, damp conditions suiting them best. Go out with a torch and collect them by hand. Either re-home them on a patch of waste ground, well away from your garden as they have a homing instinct, or drop them in a bucket of hot, salty water. Encourage natural predators, such as thrushes, toads, hedgehogs and ground beetles. Drown them in saucers of milk or beer - bury the saucer with the rim slightly above soil level to prevent ground beetles falling in, too. Place traps in the border - during the day snails will cluster in upturned pots or grapefruit skins, making collection easy. Surround vulnerable plants with barriers: try copper tape, crushed stone or egg shells. Don't plant out seedlings until they're a good size, then protect them inside cloches made from plastic drinks bottles.

Chemical

Slug pellets also kill snails. There is a wide range, with those containing aluminium sulphate being less toxic to pets and wildlife than those with metaldehyde. In both cases, a light scattering usually does the trick. Bin the bodies in the morning.

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