Thursday, 25 May 2017

Snail Invasion

The local snails have had a thin time during May's fine weather but now that a few days of light drizzle have come to their aid, they've been out in force. This collection was hiding behind just one slate in the vegetable garden.

Their favourite destination is the sugarsnap pea beds where a good crop has just broken surface. Their attentions would have been devastating had we not....

....resorted to using slug pellets to control them, as few as possible scattered round the outside of the beds.

We don't like using poisons in any part of the garden, though admit to the occasional and sparing use of Roundup. Mostly, we pull weeds out by hand, and have tried in the past to deal with snails by surrounding vulnerable crops with lengths of copper wire, which is supposed to deter them by giving them a mild electric shock, and by using beer traps. Snails like beer, drink it and, in a state of inebriation, fall into their drink and drown - but the traps dilute quickly in our climate.

Our biggest ally is the song thrush population, which seems to manage to find snails wherever they hide through the day. A frequent, and very welcome sound in the garden is the tap-tap-tap of snails being smashed open on a convenient rock.

But we worry that the snails the thrushes find most easily are those which have ingested the pellets, and fear that the thrushes - and particularly their young - may suffer as a result. The instructions on the pellet container warns that the pellets should not be ingested by humans and pets but makes no mention of wildlife.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, a real problem. And the thrushes are precious. We have the same problem and our 3-pronged regime for the conditions you describe is: 1. Snail and slug hunt with a head-torch just before retiring. 2. Slug pellets when a young crop is vulnerable but only if we have a net to throw over the crop to keep birds out. 3. A collection of any dead snails/slugs as early the next morning as possible. The nets we bought on Ebay are soft green synthetic material that look like cotton. They are limp and when bunched up round the edges limit the escape of dying snail so that the early birds that get up before we do are less likely to find them. But nothing is perfect: we found a dead great tit strangled in the net one morning.