Snails, snails and slugs: how to defend yourself

Snails, snails and slugs: how to defend yourself

Snails are a disaster for the garden: they feed on plant leaves and flowers and are stubborn and voracious. They do the greatest damage by eating leafy vegetables directly, cabbages and above all beets and salads are preferred.

Recognizing the damage caused by snails is very simple: observing the eaten leaves, bites of large portions are noted, generally starting from the edges, while smaller insects make smaller holes. It is also not difficult to surprise these gastropods at the scene of the crime, in particular by making checks in the evening. Even the strips of drool they are an unequivocal indication of their passage.

Among the gastropods enemies of the garden we have both snails with shell than snails without shells. The most voracious are the latter: the limaceae or slugs, also known as red snails.

The defense of the garden from these insatiable predators can also be done without using chemicals: it is important to remember that many of the snails on the market are highly toxic. It is therefore necessary to equip oneself with natural systems, which are not lacking: beer traps, dissuasive substances such as coffee grounds or specific products but allowed in organic farming and finally manual harvesting with a lot of patience.

How to discourage snails with natural methods

Snails and slugs live in humidity, which is why we find them active more often at sunset than during the day and they proliferate in the rain. On the other hand, the threat they bring is reduced in dry and sunny periods. In these cases, we are talking about anti snail barriers.

Ash or coffee. Any dusty substance can be used to discourage the arrival of these parasites: slugs and snails fear dust because they adhere to their soft and wet body, drying it. In this regard, real protective barriers can be created by scattering ash or coffee grounds along the perimeter of the garden. Unfortunately, however, these substances are washed away by the rains and the humidity nullifies their deterrent effect, so this type of protection should often be renewed.

Salt. Table salt would work even better, because it is able to completely dehydrate the slugs. The problem is that in the long run it becomes a herbicide and therefore damages the soil of the garden. There are strips with applied salt but it is a system not suitable for large extensions, furthermore in case of rain it is necessary to promptly remove the saline defensive perimeter, leaving the vegetables unguarded. This is why it is not a system that I would recommend.

Snail traps

A good way to control the "population" of snails and slugs around the garden is to create traps, which can attract and kill the gastropods. If you place the traps frequently, they can greatly reduce the number of snails present, limiting the damage until it is not very relevant.

The best natural bait to attract snails is beer, of which snails and slugs are incredibly greedy. Each jar can catch 15-20 snails easily and in no time. It is not difficult to make beer traps: just bury a jar half full of beer (better to use the discount one), the snails will spontaneously approach and end up drowning.

The drawback of the trap is that the rain fills the jar ruining the bait, in this regard you can use the Vaso Trap product, a plastic "roof" that is fixed on the top of classic glass jars (those that contain 1 kg of honey). This ensures a longer life for the beer.

At the level of the trap, to protect the garden from snails, there is also a very functional and effective system on the market: the Lima Trap, to be filled with snail killers. They are designed not to waste the snail and prevent it from going into the soil, we have talked about them in detail in this article.

Baits for organic snails and slugs

There are poisoned baits that attract and kill snails, they are certainly a functional system to keep them under control but be careful because some are based on metaldehyde, a substance not allowed in organic farming and toxic both to the environment and to humans. Much better to choose organic slugicides based on iron oxides (such as Solabiol).

These products are not only not harmful but enrich the soil with microelements, once degraded by atmospheric agents they do not leave toxic residues for humans. The baits can be scattered forming a perimeter or even in piles not too far away. To avoid waste of snail killer, I recommend using the Lima Trap® system mentioned above.

Natural predators

In a environment rich in biodiversity natural predators of snails and slugs will also be found. One of the most active animals in this is the hedgehog, a precious ally of natural crops.

For animals such as hedgehogs to settle in the garden, we must provide access and sheltered areas, a perimeter hedge it can be very suitable.

Manual harvest

The fight against slugs in the garden is also carried out using natural methods: collecting snails manually is a defense system that is as useful as the use of bait, especially if you pass in the evening. You can also put boards or tiles that offer shelter in the hottest hours to be able to find snails more easily and capture them in bulk. Anyone who doesn't want to kill living beings can simply put them in a bucket and take them elsewhere.

Obviously, manual harvesting is an optimal system only for those who grow small extensions, but if you have a family garden it is useless to spend money on bait, you just need a little patience.

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Matteo Cereda2020-07-23T23: 33: 26 + 02: 00
  1. Gian Maria Cavalieri16 September 2015 at 6:13

    I do not understand why I should kill snails, when it would be enough to collect them by hand and take them to a field not intended for cultivation. A little respect for animals, please.

    • horticulturist16 September 2015 at 6:20

      I also do not agree with the idea of ​​killing for free, but in making the vegetable garden it happens that in order to protect the vegetables it is necessary to contain those animals that risk ruining the harvest. Manual snail harvesting can be good if you have a lot of time and a relatively small garden, otherwise you have to think about something else. Obviously, if there are few snails, the best thing is to put a few more salads and not care, but if the weather is humid and they proliferate, unfortunately, you have to consider defending the garden even with more unpleasant means. Then everyone makes their choices of course. Absolutely to avoid chemical snails that also damage the soil, consequently the vegetables and us who eat them, better the beer traps.

      • Gianni concas26 July 2016 at 14:14

        I am against extermination, therefore for natural methods. Thanks for the good advice.

        • Cheroni Mauro27 May 2017 at 10:27

          You can put sand as a protective perimeter against snails. I tried to create a 2-3 cm circle of sand around the basil and it worked. It should be put back after a while to compensate for the one that is washed away by watering or by rain.

    • drums22 March 2017 at 11:59

      they told me that slugs have a long memory, and that they go back to where they were taken, I didn't believe it, so I tapped a slug with a ball pin, very flashy, and took it to a ground about thirty meters away, the next day I found it where I had taken it, still with its bright pin on!

    • Luigi18 June 2017 at 15:15

      I agree. I don't like killing them either. At least I pick them up by hand, put them in a glass jar and then take them to a field and let them get by there.
      Lures for poisoning snails are very dangerous for dogs. Some dogs of acquaintances died just from eating them. Then I know other people who have a barbaric way to kill them: they put a pinch of salt on them and they slowly end up disintegrating. I prefer that they eat my tomatoes rather than resort to this barbaric system.

  2. Quattroni Sandro13 March 2017 at 5:17

    I thought you all converted to organic farming. I don't think it makes sense to cultivate products by killing other living beings that still have their own function; they are part of a food chain, for example snails are eaten by birds, lizards, ducks, toads and hedgehogs. The alternative to snail control can be done in the evening when they come out and remove them naturally by hand, or if you really want to put bait you can do it using glasses filled with beer or water and sugar / yeast. Snails are attracted to and end up in them. Another alternative is to put wooden boards along the ground, during the day they will find shelter and by turning the board you can find many snails to remove. My advice is to absolutely avoid using toxic substances because it makes little sense to kill snails and then indirectly poison ourselves, the waters and therefore numerous living beings by destroying the territory instead of supporting it. If, paradoxically, you have birds doing part of the work, for example, which feed on snails, you will not need to pollute the environment or spend on all these chemicals. My advice that I can give to you as to others is to create as varied a habitat as possible of animal and plant beings, your goal is to create a "closed" environment in order to find a natural balance. Of course it takes time, the first year you will not see great results but after 2-3 years you will start to see progress attracting many insects and animals that will do your hard work for you and you can sit on a chair to admire this show. I hope to be proved helpful.

    • Matteo Cereda14 March 2017 at 8:53

      Hi Sandro
      Very useful contribution, I share everything you have written. I cultivate with a completely organic method. This does not mean that I do not kill snails, unfortunately there are too many of them despite birds and manual harvesting. But I don't do it with chemical methods, I go to beer traps and in exceptional cases I use organic snail killer which is non-toxic to humans and even fertilizes the plants.

  3. Hercules folegates14 May 2017 at 17:18

    I have set traps against snails, I have filled them with slugicide in granules and to my surprise, I have noticed that some traps emptied of their contents in a short time. I saw that the ants ate the poison taking it to the nest…. What happens to the ants if they eat the snail killer?

    • Matteo Cereda15 May 2017 at 14:57

      Hello Hercules. Usually I do not use the snail killer, I have tried to use the biological one in the past (like Ferramol) and I have never seen ants steal it. I'm sorry but I can't answer you. However, I think that there is no single answer: it depends on the snail killer. If I were you I would try to write to the producer. In any case, I advise you to avoid the chemical snail: it is poison. Or if you really can't do without it, use trap files so as not to poison the ground.

  4. Gianlorenzo16 April 2018 at 12:08

    Hello. Like many, I too prefer to avoid killing these animals, both because I am sorry and because, as they have already said, they enter the food chain of other useful animals. And for this very reason, using poisons against snails would also mean poisoning those who eat them, or even pets.
    I also tried to harvest them in the evening or early morning, but it takes time and is not an easy job, since to do a good job you would have to lift the leaves of each plant to see if there are any snails underneath (and there they are almost always in inconspicuous positions), so for a couple of years I have done as in snail farms: to prevent them from escaping, they put walls with a fold at the top that falls inwards at a certain angle, so that when a snail gets there it finds this insurmountable obstacle and cannot continue. I did more or less the same thing with this fold facing outwards, however, so that the snails could not enter the garden, using the sheets I had available. I must say that the number of slugs and snails that I later found inside the garden after this solution has decreased a lot. Not completely reset for a couple of reasons: the first is that I have not sealed the sheets well together (only tightened with iron wire) and therefore there are small cracks through which the smaller snails obviously pass; the second is that if even with the barriers put in place not even a snail had passed from the outside, most likely there must have been some eggs inside the ground which then hatched. But in this case it would be sufficient to collect the existing snails from time to time until their final disappearance.
    In any case, if you do a job that is really well done and well sealed, not even a snail should enter from the outside.
    By the way: is it possible that the presence of the metal sheets I used, buried about 10cm, causes pollution and is therefore contraindicated?

    • Matteo Cereda16 April 2018 at 15:13

      I do not see the use of buried metal sheets particularly harmful, the system seems good to me, even if it is manageable only for small gardens and where the use of perimeter sheets is aesthetically acceptable.

      • Gianlorenzo16 April 2018 at 16:44

        Dunno, someone told me about possible heavy metals that the metal sheets could release into the ground, but I don't understand it at all and I have no idea if it's true or not. So it makes me think that the reasoning is not completely wrong, given that over time the sheets will degrade, rust and melt in the ground and if they contain metals or other harmful components they will obviously be dissolved in the ground.
        As for the size: I have a classic home garden, about 3 x 20 meters divided into flower beds. Aesthetically, the sheets are not the best, I agree (in my case they are not too ugly being arranged harmoniously in the context, but certainly a better solution from the point of view of beauty would be preferable). What do I know, different materials. like thin precast concrete slabs or something like that. It would be more pleasant to use wood, but it would last very little ... Perhaps it will not remain the best from an aesthetic point of view, but in these cases the practical aspect counts more! The important thing is to bury as many centimeters as possible and create a fold at the top that has the size and an angle that prevents snails and slugs from climbing over the obstacle.

  5. Jorge Tarducci13 May 2020 at 20:00

    All attempts failed. Now I'm putting a nth test, glass jars on top of each plant. They work all night, that's their advantage!

    • Matteo Cereda13 May 2020 at 21:48

      Have you also tried ferric sulfate? As a last resort it usually works. The glass jar risks creating stagnant damp, a source of fungal diseases.

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