• July 26, 2014

Stop snails in the yard

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Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 10:17 am, Sun Jul 14, 2013.

I just love it when big news stories dealing with nature make the headlines. With crime and trials so prevalent these days, it’s nice to see nature making the news.

Recently, big snails made the headlines when it was reported that an invasive species, the giant African snail, had been found in Texas.

There were subsequent reports of the deadly diseases this particular snail carried and warned folks not to touch them, but to try and retrieve them safely from their landscaping.

A few days later, I read that the snail found was misidentified and it really wasn’t a dangerous, invasive African snail after all. It was a rosy wolf snail and native to the region.

Even though that’s a relief, it reminds us that invasive pests can arrive here and cause all kinds of trouble, and we should know what to do or where to call if we are unsure of a pest in our yards. I saw the suggestion that anyone with a pest question or concern may contact their local AgriLife Extension office.

The story also got me thinking more about common snails in our area and the problems they pose for plant lovers. Snails and slugs are considered pests in our landscaping since they feed on soft plant tissues, like the fruit, leaves, stems, roots, petals and seedlings. Snails come out mainly at night, they lay large amounts of eggs on plants or in the soil, and many tend to be pretty resilient, even in hot, dry areas like ours.

There are several ways to manage snail/slug damage. Once you locate them by looking for their slime trails, you may:

Hand-pick them, which is quite time consuming but works.

Bait and trap them using commercial traps or use lids or saucers of a liquid that attracts and drowns them (there are commercial products or even beer is used).

Use products such as diatomaceous earth or the nematode, Heterorhabditis marelatus.

Put up a metal (copper) barrier that can sometimes discourage them.

Using commercial pest control products should always be done carefully, especially around children, pets and edible plants and fruits.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is the regulating authority on aquatic snails while agricultural pests are regulated by the Texas Department of Agriculture and USDA-Animal Plant Health Inspection Service-Plant Protection and Quarantine. They have additional information that can help.

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