The Garden Snail is a common pest in many parts of the world. It can cause great destruction to flower and vegetable gardens, much to the dismay of gardeners everywhere. There are plenty of poisons available, but many are not safe to use around kids, or pets, or on edible plants. Is it possible to eliminate garden snails naturally, without chemicals or traps? Can it be done by manual extraction alone?
- Better for the earth – less nasty pesticides being introduced to the environment
- Better for you – chemical free elimination is safe for you, kids, and pets
- Saves money – snails can be eliminated with what you have at home – no expensive pesticide purchase or other special equipment is necessary
- Saves time long-term – with one, or two rounds of this elimination strategy, you can have a snail free garden for up to a year
- So easy even a child can do it – my three year old has been a willing snail extractor
- Takes upfront time – but a few hours work now is worth a snail free growing season
- You must be willing to touch snails to eliminate them naturally
Last spring we moved out of our Los Angeles apartment and into a sweet little single family home. Our house has lots of beds for planting flowers and vegetables. I was very excited about all the new things I could teach my toddler while working out in the yard, planting and weeding. There were many new things to show him that we never saw on our walks at the apartment complex. One of the first new things we ran into was a cute little garden snail crossing our sidewalk one morning. My son and I examined it with great interest and set it gently into the grass to make sure it safely got where it was going.
Soon I noticed that there always seemed to be a garden snail crossing the sidewalk in the morning. Then after planting all the beds with new little flowers, I noticed the leaves were getting very chewed up at night. The slime paths across my sidewalk multiplied. It wasn’t long before I caught a snail in the act. Annoyed, I tossed it away from the garden, but the slime trails the next morning told me that he had lots of friends.
Early one morning, as I was leaving for work, I paused to look at the yard. It was a cool wet morning, about half an hour after sunrise. The grass was wet with dew, and… moving? A closer look revealed literally hundreds of garden snails sliming their way across the yard to hide in the decorative plants under the trees. A close look under the trees revealed rows and rows of snails tucking in for the day. It was rather disturbing! I had a snail problem.
After doing some internet research, I determined that manual removal of the snails was the strategy I most preferred. I didn’t want to use any chemicals around the kids, and I also didn’t want to have to collect up a ginormous pile of dead snails. The copper barrier trick sounded effective, but also expensive, and complicated to execute on so many different plants. Building beer traps also seemed too much trouble. So I got a big bucket, and the two and a half year old and went out at dusk.
As the sun set, all the snails were waking and leaving their nests to chow down on some yummy garden plants. They were pretty easy to spot, and easy to catch. My little guy ran around pointing them out to me and I scooped them up and collected them in my bucket. I stopped counting after I snagged 200 of the slimy pests. I found I could pick them up faster by using rubber gloves to get past the “ick-I’m-touching-a-snail” feeling. After we plucked all the snails we could find, I filled the bucket with water, covered it with a plate (so no one could escape) and left it out overnight. In the morning, I dumped the now expired snails into the gutter, and the local crows feasted.
We went out again the next night, and found only a handful. The snails were gone and we didn’t see any more for the rest of the year! No chemicals, no traps, and no more work! This spring we found we had a re-infestation, likely due to eggs laid by last year’s crew. The number of snails was not nearly as large, and we took care of them in less than an hour one afternoon. My son (now three and a half) happily plucked them from their hiding spots and piled them up for me to care for. I simply tossed them into the street when they were run over by cars and eaten by the birds. By evening there was no evidence of snails, except for some wet spots on the pavement. All taken care of for this year!
Overall, manual removal of snails was a great success. Capturing snails is easy as they are easily spotted and very slow-moving, They can’t swim in a bucket of water, and the neighborhood birds are happy to help clean up the mess. A full sweep of the yard will remove all snails for the whole season. Manual snail extraction works!
Have you been successful with any natural garden pest elimination strategies? I’d love to hear what works for you!