Snails and Slugs

Snail and Slug Overview

Snails and slugs are both gastropods, which means “stomach foot.” They are the only ones that live on land.

Appearance

Both snails and slugs have a single “foot”. They both also have a radula, which is a tongue of sorts. Snails have a shell and slugs don’t. Another difference is that snails are eaten as food in some cultures, and slugs generally aren’t.

Breeding

All snails are hermaphroditic. What this means is that any snail or slug can lay eggs after mating with another snail or slug. Adults lay about 80 spherical eggs at a time in holes in the soil. They lay eggs up to six times a year. White eggs have just been laid. Darker eggs are ready to hatch. It takes two years for baby snails to mature.

Slugs are also hermaphroditic. Their eggs are translucent and either oval or round. They lay between three and 40 at a time, and they can mature in as little as three months. Slugs can live up to five years.

Photo Credit Pixabay

Damage

Snails and slugs are garden pests. They eat living plants, decaying plants, and seedlings of fruits like strawberries and tomatoes. Snails and slugs can carry diseases, but these mostly come through direct ingestion.

Control

Snails and slugs are slow-moving creatures, so once seen, they are easy to catch. They are attracted to moisture, plant life, and things to hide under.

Since snails and slugs are slow, they don’t move away from their hiding places all that much. Removing potential hiding places, like loose mulch, sticks, thick vegetation, and big clumps of dead plant matter is an effective prevention technique. So is removing moisture. They are so slimy and squishy that without moisture, they dry up and die. Salting them is a bad idea though, because it can ruin the soil.

The best sign of snail and slug infestation is their trail. Snails and slugs leave a mucus trail everywhere they go.

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