Pest of the Month: Slugs and Snails
Apr 7, 2015 Comments Off on Pest of the Month: Slugs and Snails
Found in most regions across the United States, slugs and snails are a pest we all hate to love. They’re small, soft-bodied and amorphous, and able to squeeze through the smallest cracks and air leaks. Blessed with an amazing sense of smell, snails and slugs are led to your house usually by the scent of pet food, last night’s scraps, or whatever else you may have in your pantry. Usually, the only way you even notice their presence in your home is by the thick, slimy trail marking their travels. If slugs and snails are making their way into your yard or home, read on for tips on how to rid your home of these slimy creatures.
What Slugs and Snails Eat
In addition to whatever they come upon, snails and slugs also make a meal on a variety of plants. If you’ve noticed irregular holes chewed into leaves of your plants or flowering fruits, snails and slugs may be the culprit. Slugs and snails tend to enjoy succulent plants and low-growing fruits such as tomatoes, artichokes and strawberries.
Traveling toward a food source is not a problem for the patient slug or snail. They can crawl, albeit very slowly, on vertical surfaces, and can even make their way upside down if the situation arises. Because of this, fruit-bearing trees are not safe either. Snails and slugs really enjoy citrus, and will climb any orange or citrus tree in pursuit of its fruit. The slimy trails of mucous left behind are indicative of slug and snail infestation.
How to Find Snails and Slugs
Unless you’re looking for them, snails and slugs can be hard to catch. They only come out during the day if it’s foggy or cloudy. During sunny days, they tend to stay in cool, moist and shady areas away from the sun. They become active at night in order to feed. Slugs and snails stay active throughout the year in areas that have mild winters, such as the southern coast.
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Check under planters, log piles and low decks. Snails in particular need a source of calcium for their shells, and they tend to inhabit areas where limestone is plentiful. Instead of limestone, snails will eat paint right off of surfaces in order to get the calcium their shells demand. Snails can also attach themselves to trees, home exterior walls, and fences by sealing themselves within their shell.
How to Get Rid of Slugs and Snails
If you’ve noticed some mucous trails through your home, the easiest way to stop the home infiltration is to seal up cracks and air leaks. Source a can of expanding foam at your home improvement store and use it to seal air leaks around sliding doors, windows, and places where plumbing and electrical lines enter and leave your home. Since snails and slugs like damp areas, check your attic and basement for typical slug and snail hiding areas.
To keep snails and slugs from eating your plants and destroying your garden, there are many home remedies to employ. Sprinkling crushed eggshells in planters not only provides additional calcium for your plants, but also acts as a natural barrier to the soft bodies of snails and slugs. You could also try spraying cold liquid coffee on plants or directly on the slugs or snails to keep them from your plants, or using coffee grounds around the plants you want to protect. Coffee also pulls double duty nourishing the soil and providing a barrier between your most succulent plants and the snails and slugs hoping to devour them.
If you’ve noticed slimy mucous trails through your garden, or even in your home, getting rid of snails and slugs is a project that’s easier and more cost effective to do yourself. Copper barriers, old coffee grounds, and a can of expandable foam to seal air leaks in windows and doors should do plenty to keep snails from slowly taking over your garden and finding their way into your home.