combat snails

Eco Tricks to Combat Snails

Snails can become pests in the garden, especially when they eat all the lettuce leaving little for the human family. Here are some ideas to combat snails then the environmentally friendly way.

  1. Use copper earthing wire (available from the hardware store) to make a border around your plants. Make sure the wire is secure to the ground with no gaps. For large areas roll the earthing wire around dowels secured into the ground. Snails will not move over copper.
  2. Crush eggshells and scatter them around you plants. Snails hate the sharp edges of eggshells, and an added benefit is that when they break down they improve the soil health.
  3. Use diatomaceous earth around your plants. The fossilised remains of the diatoms that make up diatomaceous earth are like sharp shards of glass to a snail. Sprinkle it on the soil around the plants you want to protect, and repeat after watering or rainfall. It’s important to use food-grade diatomaceous earth in gardens, and not the manipulated one used in swimming-pool filters.
  4. Plant herbs and plants that combat snails around the garden, like sage (Salvia officinalis not Salvia spendans – that will have the opposite effect and attract snails), mint and mustard. Other plants that may help are hyssop, chives, garlic, fennel and geraniums.
  5. A good dose of rooibos tea liquid that has been cooled and then poured on your plants will deter snails from the area.
  6. The smell of yeast will attract snails into a trap so that they can be gathered and moved elsewhere. By sinking a saucer or pot tray into the garden so the lip is in line with the soil, you can create a trap. To attract snails use yeast or yeast products like beer in the trap. A little honey added to yeast also helps. Empty and refill the trap every couple of days.
  7. Slugs and snails are more active at night and thrive in moist conditions, so avoid watering in the evening and rather water in the mornings so that by evening things have dried out as a simple way to combat snails.
  8. Carnivorous snails are great to have in the garden as they easily control the snail population, but they are more likely to be found in coastal gardens. They are becoming quite scarce these days as they also succumb to snail baits and poisons used in the garden.
  9. Several wine estates in the Cape have turned to a rather wonderful way of controlling snails in the vineyards: they keep flocks of ducks that take care of pest patrol, and their favourite snack is snails. Every morning they are let out of their pens to waddle together to the vineyards for their day’s work, returning in the evening to settle in for the night. It’s a rather satisfying way to control snails.
  10. The slime trails that slugs make are like road maps. Each slug leaves its own slime scent so that they can find their way home again. They also let all the snails and slugs in the neighbourhood know where the good stuff is. Wash away slime trails to reduce tipping off more slugs and snails.
  11. An hour or two after the sun has gone down you can inspect your garden plants with a flashlight and remove snails by hand. It’s not the easiest solution, but it can be fun. For commercial eco snail control products visit www.tanyavisser.com
The Gardener