Those who love gardening would do anything to protect their precious plants, so it’s important for them to keep repelling snails and slugs in the garden. Here are some handy tips on how to get rid of them for good so your garden will flourish!
Mention snails or slugs to any person with a green thumb and it will get them all riled up because what snails eat are the beautiful leaves of the potted plants that they’ve taken great care of. It must be frustrating to have invested so much time and energy into caring for your plants just to have them damaged and destroyed by these slimy creatures. Fret not, we have 11 simple ways to help you get rid of them.
But before we wage a war with these pesky little pests, let’s get to know them a little better.
Types of snails
There are about 43,000 species of snails—land snails, sea snails, and freshwater snails—in the world. While most snails are not poisonous, they can cause massive damage to your houseplants. We’ve identified two species that like to hang around in your garden.
1. Siput Babi (Giant African land snail)
The most common of garden snails, Siput Babi, scientifically known as Achatina fulica, is public enemy number one. Identifiable through its large pyramid-shaped shell with a spiral pattern, this species has been considered a significant pest around the world.
This species is native to the African continent and has spread to other tropics when it was brought into India in the 20th century. As for the origin of the name Siput Babi, that remains a mystery. We do admit its name is rather amusing. Here are some pictures for your reference so that you can identify your enemy when you spot it.
2. Gondang Emas (Golden apple snail)
Scientifically known as pomacea, these snails come in two different colours. The golden coloured ones are called pomacea canaliculata while the black-ish ones are called pomacea incerlarus. South American in origin, this species is among the top 100 of the “World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species”.
Dubbed a silent killer, they are usually found in paddy fields. But beware, they can also be found in the watery areas of your garden. Interestingly, they are edible!
Are snails good for the garden?
While they tend to munch on your potted plants, they’re not all bad. Most of them help to clean up garden debris and their droppings act as an organic fertiliser to enhance your plant’s nutrition. Having said that, they can cause quite a havoc if there are too many of them.
Snails don’t do much damage on ground level, they tend to climb up trees to feast on barks, leaves, fruits, and flower buds. Slugs, on the other hand, can be more destructive. If your plant is still in its premature stage, be extra attentive to it because slugs can crawl underground and devour it. They will also leave a slimy trail that will attract other slugs to invade your garden.
Types of garden slugs
There are more than a few thousand species of slugs in the world, but only four types can cause serious damage to your beautifully-decorated garden.
1. Garden slug (Arion hortensis)
They’re the smallest of slugs that invade your garden, but don’t underestimate them. The garden slug can cause havoc by attacking your plants both above and below ground. This black, slimy creature is only about 30mm long, has a pale side stripe, and orange mucus.
2. Field slug (Decoceras reticulatum)
Native to Europe, the field slug prefers feeding above ground and they’re notoriously known for their gluttony. They like to hide in green vegetables. You can often find them under or inside the leaves of lettuces and cabbages. Field slugs are especially vulnerable to high temperature, anything above 30 degrees Celcius and they’ll die.
3. Keel slug (Tandonia budapestensis)
The keel slug is much bigger in size compared to the above two—it can grow up to 60mm long. One easy way to identify this slimy creature is by its colour. They come in either grey or olive shades and may or may not have a yellow or orange stripe along its “keel”, the ridge in its back. They typically feed on plants that are grown underground like potatoes.
4. Black slug (Arion ater)
Probably the biggest slug you’ll find in your garden, the black slug can grow up to 200mm long. Unlike the others, this species is beneficial to your greens as it feeds on dead animals, fungi, manure, and rotting vegetation, basically things that you do not want in your pot. You can often find them in rotting matter, underneath living plants.
What is the difference between snails and slugs?
People often get confused about the type of animal snails and slugs belong to. Is snail an insect? Is the slug an amphibian? Neither. They are essentially the same type of creature, both belonging to the mollusk family along with other creatures like clams, squids, and oysters. The only difference between them is that a snail has a shell while a slug does not.
Tell-tale signs of a garden invasion
- Take a good look at the leaves of your plants. If you find many leaves perforated, it is very likely that snails are eating them, and your garden has been invaded.
- Check for slime trails around your plants; snails release mucus as they move.
- Inspect your greens for any slug eggs or snail eggs. These creatures often lay eggs on the soil surface and they’re covered with leaf or organic debris.
- If you find snails on plant, that means they’ve already invaded your garden. Use the methods we suggested below to get rid of them.
Don’t delay if these signs are apparent. Solve the problem before your well-cultivated garden is destroyed.
How to repel snails and slugs naturally
It’s troubling to find your beautifully grown flowers eaten by these garden pests. While they do not cause any harm to humans, they ruin the houseplants that we’ve taken good care of. If you’re looking for ways on how to kill snails and slugs naturally or how to prevent snails from eating plants, you’ve come to the right place.
1. Create an uncomfortable area for snails
The most non-threatening way to repel snails is to cause discomfort for them. There are measures that can be taken to disrupt their path and drive them away naturally from your garden.
- Deter them with sawdust or sand
As snails leave a trail of slime when they move, sprinkle sawdust or sand around the garden or the plant area in your home. This will disrupt their path and repel them from returning.
- Prevent snails from eating plants with used coffee grounds
Snails are said to dislike the odour emitted by coffee beans. You can try sprinkling used coffee grounds on areas where snails are concentrated. Coffee grounds double as good fertiliser for your plants so it’s a win-win situation.
- Kill snails with salt
Apart from coffee grounds, regular salt, Epsom Salt, or snail salt can also be used to repel snails. Just sprinkle the salt on the area infested by snails or on their path. Some green enthusiasts claim that salt works better than pesticide! Salt works because snails need moisture to produce slime that allow them to travel. If you sprinkle salt on them, the salt will absorb moisture from the snails, making it difficult for them to move. Too much salt and they will die from dehydration.
2. Pick ’em up!
This method is effective if you don’t easily get grossed out and the invasion of snails is at an early stage. Simply pick them up one by one and dispose them. Make sure that you destroy their eggs too to prevent them from multiplying!
You can convert the shells into organic fertiliser as it has high calcium content.
3. Concoct a potion
You can use the potion as a form of bait. The ingredients are simple and can be found in your kitchen.
- Water, yeast, honey, or sugar
Simply mix these ingredients in a container. It would be more convenient if you cut an empty bottle in half and pour the mixture into it.
Plant the bottle partially into the ground to lure the snails in. Once the snails fall into the bottle, submerge the bottle in water. Leave it overnight. You can dispose of the snails with the bottle the following day.
Corn flour causes the snail’s body to expand and kills it. Place the cornflour in an empty container or bottle. Use vegetables or leaves as bait to lure the snails to the cornflour.
4. Fortify your garden
Alternatively, you can build mini fences surrounding your plants. Materials used can be according to your budget and creativity. For example, you can build a fence or simple barrier around the garden using toothpicks or skewers to make it inaccessible for snails to attack your plants.
5. Sharp objects
You can also use sharp objects to eliminate small snails in potted plants such as:
Crush the eggshells and sprinkle it around the plants in your garden. They provide nutrients for your plants too as they contain calcium.
- Aluminium or metal sheets
Wrap pieces of aluminium or metal sheets around your pots. These pieces of iron and aluminum are said to cause an electric shock effect on snails.
6. Herbal plants as a snail repellent
Herbal plants may repel snails from invading your garden due to the odour they emit. Some of the herbal plants that you can use are:
Looking for ways to grow herbs at home? Read our guide.
7. Dig up the eggs
Don’t just focus on eliminating adult snails. They breed easily. Below are simple steps that you can take to get rid of snail eggs.
- Identify the area of infestation.
- Dig up the dirt and collect the eggs you find. You don’t have to dig deep. Just fluff the soil a little.
- Dispose the eggs. Repeat these steps periodically to ensure all eggs are eliminated.
8. Snail predators
This method relies on predation, parasitism, herbivory, or other natural mechanisms. If you live in an area where you can raise chickens or ducks, this method is suitable for you because what eats snails are these farm animals.
9. Change your watering schedule
Snails are fond of moist and damp areas and will usually appear at night. If you usually water your plants in the evening, try watering them in the morning instead. This way, the soil will be drier at night.
10. Keep your garden neat and tidy
Since snails are fond of moist and damp areas, keeping your garden clear from dried grass, leaves, and twigs can also prevent your snail problems from getting worse. By keeping your garden area neat and tidy, it can also prevent insects and other pests from invading your garden.
11. Snail pesticide
If all else fails, pesticide is your last resort. They can be purchased at your nearest plant nurseries or stores.
Spray the pesticide on the area of infestation. However, be careful not to spray your edible plants. You wouldn’t want to get them contaminated with poison. Ensure you read the labels for instructions. Do check if the pesticides can cause any side effects.
We hope that our guide on how to get rid of snails in potted plants will prove to be useful to combat your snail invasion. Try to make it a routine to ensure they don’t return. Don’t forget to share this article with your fellow green enthusiasts if it helped you. We wish you the best of luck!
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