Snails and slugs are mollusks and are considered pests due to their ability to produce sticky trails of mucus wherever they go. They are a garden plight and can cause significant damage to plants in spite of their tiny size. Snails and slugs feed on a variety of plants and flowers and do not seem differentiate between indoor, outdoor or greenhouse foliage. Homeowners may notice snails and slugs that attach to garden fencing or structures during cooler weather.
Their slimy trail is what enables snails and slugs to live away from water reserves and facilitates their movement. Snails and slugs are hermaphrodites, which means they do not require mates in order to reproduce; it only takes one to occupy a garden if allowed sufficient time and resources. They can become a pest if left uncontrolled and a series of prevention methods should be incorporated.
Snails and Slugs Identification
Snails are effectively slugs that have a strong, spherical shell attached to their back, which they use as a form of protection and compact accommodation. Snails and slugs share a common genetic bodily structure but are classed as two significant species; a slug is not a snail without a shell, as is often misidentified. You may notice a shiny residue underneath or around plants or in your garden; this is a telltale indication of their presence.
Snails and slugs both have a long, dense body that is a dark tan color. They are slimy yet indifferent to the touch and can fluctuate from an inch to several inches long. The shell of a snail may vary considerably among different species but will retain the same form and design as other snails and slugs. On the front of their body is a set of antenna and eyes.
You can also identify snails and slugs by their varying path of destruction. They will chew on plants and flowers with no pattern and can feed on most native wildlife. Snails and slugs have shown preference to tomato plants, strawberries and artichokes. They may also be partial to lemon trees, fruit from trees or bark.
Snails and Slugs Habitat
Snails and slugs typically live outside but may enter into homes or greenhouses during cooler or winter months. During this time, they will hibernate. In warmer months snails and slugs can wreak havoc on gardens. So what do slugs eat? These pests require a strict diet of plants, grass and mixed flowers. Some species will even eat fruit, bark from trees and other common plants found in many gardens. Slugs will spend a considerable deal of time in the shade, as the sun can dry out their mucus and prevent them from moving. Warm, damp locations are desirable, but snails and slugs can be found in most gardens in America and even throughout the word.
Snails have a hard shell which can also provide extra safety and shelter from predators and the sun. Slugs depend on their environment, but both snails and slugs can be found in the same outdoor locations, such as greenhouses, gardens, wetlands, and forests.
Snails and Slugs Life Cycle
Snails and slugs are hermaphrodites, which means they have both male and female sex organs. They do not need a partner in order to reproduce, but some species may participate in the act. Snails and slugs both lay tiny eggs and can produce upwards of 500 eggs per season; the amount of offspring that survives is heavily dependent upon the conditions.
These white eggs will hatch into smaller clones of their parents within three weeks or five months depending on the species and environmental conditions. Snails and slugs can propagate throughout the year, but like many other animals, they prefer the warmer seasons. Once they are fully grown, snails and slugs can live for up to four years, but many die prior to this time.
Snails and Slugs and Humans
Snails and slugs are a common creature in the garden and one that may inspire or offend those who find them. They can be a predicament upon gardeners, who should exercise caution and try to prevent snails and slugs from taking up permanent residence. Children may enjoy the colorful assortment of shells seen on snails, but it should never be misunderstood that snails are less destructive than slugs.
Snails and Slug Control
Despite common misconceptions, salt is not recommended as a treatment option, as this can change the balance of your land and cause further damage. Alternative methods include placing a tray of beer on the ground, which attracts the snails and slugs and in turn kills them. This method is highly effective and can be used as a secure control method. Picking off stray snails and slugs and relocating or removing them from your garden is also considered beneficial and can help prevent further damage.
In the event of a mass population, stricter methods of pest control may be required and can almost always be carried out at home.
Preventive methods: Prevention is abundant and can include changing the types of plants and tress in your yard and garden to laying traps or baits periodically. Additional measures may be considered in cooler months when snails and slugs are likely to fall into hibernation and attach themselves in sticky residue to outside structures.
Traps: Snail or slug traps can be laid in areas of high interest and are effective at reducing population counts quickly. Those which are designed specially for snails and slugs may also use electricity instead of chemicals, but can often be used in conjunction with baits or chemical treatments if desired.
Baits: Baits are useful when used in conjunction with other methods and rely on poisoning the snails and slugs. Baits are harmful to snails and slugs and should not be used alone, as they have shown to be ineffective if used this manner. You should also note the affected area for other signs of damage as these baits can negatively impact some plants or wildlife.
Professional assistance is not generally recommended unless there is an annoying number of snails and slugs in your home or garden. A combination of these methods will usually be sufficient, and ongoing preventive measures are still recommended.
Snails and Slugs Zoology
Snails and slugs belong to the animal kingdom and are both classed as gastropods due to their combined genetic appearances. They share a common phylum, known as the Mollusca phylum which includes other molluscs and changing land creatures. Snails and slugs can be divided by the presence of a shell but share almost every other aspect of commonality.