Snails: Get the Facts About These Garden Pests
If your once-thriving vegetable garden suddenly appears chewed up or damaged, blame it on the brown garden snail. The brown garden snail (Cornu aspersum) possesses a voracious appetite. Once the pest finds a sustainable food source, it consumes everything in its path.
Sometime during the 1850s, the garden snail entered California as a European delicacy. But over the years, the brown snail has become more than just a fancy appetizer. The pest is now the bane of existence for numerous nurseries, farming communities, and even residential areas in the state.
To protect your vegetables and other plants from destruction, learn as much as you can about the mysterious brown garden snail.
Where Do Brown Garden Snails Hail From?
California is home to over 200 different species of snails and slugs. About 22 of the snails in the state, including the brown garden snail, come from Europe and other places outside of the U.S. Although mature snails hibernate during the cold season and emerge once spring arrives, young brown garden snails can remain active all year long.
Cornu aspersum is a unique land mollusk that belongs to the gastropoda class. Gastropods generally rely on a single organ called a foot to move about. Special glands inside the foot secrete or release a slimy substance called mucus. This substance makes it easier for the snail to glide across different surfaces.
Like many other gastropods, the brown garden snail has two long eyestalks on the top of its head. This strange setup allows the snail to see or detect danger in many different directions. The brown snail's shell is also unique in color. Some shells have a gold base with irregular dark markings, while other shells may appear dark brown with gold markings running through them.
What Do Brown Garden Snails Eat?
Brown garden snails usually travel to areas with plenty of moisture and food, such as residential vegetable gardens. Garden snails use the moisture in your soil to hydrate their soft bodies, as well as your vegetables to survive the seasons.
The snails can consume a variety of natural food sources, including:
- Cabbage leaves
- Ornamental plants
- Tomatoes and their leaves
The pests may also consume weeds and decaying animals. If you use organic soil to sustain your garden, you may be inadvertently helping the garden snail thrive in it. The damage created by garden snails can be considerable. The pests usually create irregularly-shaped holes in the things they attack. Your plants may eventually wither away and perish.
You can keep your garden safe and prevent the serious problems above by managing and controlling the snails in it.
How Can You Control Brown Garden Snails?
Management and control are the best ways to keep your garden free of brown snails. If you use pesticides, the chemicals may potentially harm your vegetables and make them unsafe to eat. If you remove the garden, you lose a sustainable food source for your family. You want to avoid these issues as much as possible.
It's a good idea for you contact a pest control contractor to assist you with the snails in your garden with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) services. IPM uses a variety of methods to control or manage outdoor pests, including organic treatments. Organic treatments are low in toxins and make the least impact on the environment.
Placing baits in your garden to reduce the snail population over time may be an option. Baits may contain ingredients that kill young garden snails before they have a chance to breed. A pest control provider can discuss how the baits work and what they contain when you contact them.
In addition, a pest control company may offer other solutions you can use to keep your vegetables safe, including showing you how to clean up your garden. Snails can hide in weeds and excessive growth. By cleaning up your garden, you allow birds, lizards, and other natural predators of the pests to spot them easily.
A contractor may also suggest placing makeshift shelters around your garden. Snails usually feed at night and take cover during the day. Once the pests complete their nightly rounds in your garden, they may take refuge under or inside the makeshift shelters in the morning, making it easier for you to physically remove the pests.
With the combination of management tools above, you can keep snails from infesting your garden. Pest control will generally inspect and monitor your garden throughout the year as a precaution. New snails can travel to your garden if they find the conditions favorable.
You don't have to lose your vegetables to brown garden snails when you can do something about it. Contact us at Greenleaf Organic Pest Management, Inc. for a detailed inspection of your garden and more ideas on how to eliminate the snails in it.