Adventures in Ethics and Science

Snail eradication (day 33).

Well, it was another dry morning in the back yard. And I was sufficiently busy with other stuff yesterday afternoon that I did not have a chance to set up any beery gastropod watering holes.

So the pickings today were predictably slim.

Not only were most of the plants and planting areas free of visible gastropods, but most of the places where I can count on finding at least one slug on any given morning were slugless.

The big bag of potting soil on the ground near the house had a few slugs under it. There are always at least a few slugs under that bag, even when there are none under the neighboring bags of compost and mulch. I don’t know if this is a matter of the contents of the bag, the relative heft of it, or the location.

One of the other things I did yesterday afternoon was water my vegetable garden. Since the soil in the raised beds was damper than the soil anywhere else in the yard, I had a close look. As I was pulling a few weeds, I discovered (in three separate beds) a few wee slugs.

As I came in from patrol, it started drizzling lightly. Why the drizzle could not have happened an hour earlier I do not know.

Today’s take: seven slugs and no snails.


  1. #1 Art
    June 10, 2009

    I’m not fighting snails here, I’m quite happy letting them eat the grass (in Florida rural lexicon anything green that grows in a yard is ‘grass’)because what they don’t eat I have to mow.

    If I was to try to find a snail the first place I would look would be around the stones surrounding my birdbaths. Birdbaths that stay full, overflowing just a bit because I rigged a drip emitter set to about one drop every ten seconds. I figure about 4 drops/ml, or a bit more than 2L/day. The dripping sound seems to really bring in the birds. Occasional mobs during dry spells. Very exciting to watch as the groups jockey for position to get a drink or bath.

    The small but steady overflow keeps the area moist. In the shade of a large tree and moist seems to be prime habitat for slugs and even though I don’t see many, the resident armadillos and raccoons eat them like candy I understand, the only place I regularly see slugs is around the birdbaths.

    Perhaps, just a thought, you might want to set up a birdbath with a drip emitter. The birds could use the water and in return, perhaps, help out with bugs. Do birds eat slugs? The slugs would have a nice moist spot to focus their attention away from your garden.

    Years ago I created a simple birdbath by placing a 2′ galvanized steel oil change pan, clean of course, on a couple of bricks. I lined the bottom with bricks because I thought the 4″ depth excessive and couldn’t be sure a rain shower would fill it completely. Wouldn’t do to drown the bathers. It wasn’t Home Beautiful material but the birds seemed to like it. Instead of bricks you might place a suitable pan on top of a slug shelters. Any overflow, or splashes from the birds would serve to keep the area moist and attractive to slugs.

    Of course there is some chance the birds raid your garden. Of course they might do it with or without a birdbath. How do you feel about bird nets? Protecting a garden requires constant vigilance.

    I have a couple of bird feeders and birdbaths and have developed quite a community. The two most notable visitors have been a red tailed hawk that drops by in the dry season, reminds me of a large man in a small kiddie pool and it gives the rest of the birds a fright, and a pair of owls that visits a few times each summer late at night. The loud ‘Whooo’ about fifteen feet from my bedroom window around midnight was quite startling the first time. Very cool in my book. Both birds only stay for a few minutes and then back to the woods.

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