Snail eradication (day 10).

This was another cool, dewy morning following on the heels of a blazing hot day.

In other words, good snailing weather.

I got started a little earlier than usual, because I had to empty yesterday's Soapy Bucket of Merciful Deliverance onto the compost pile and prepare a fresh Soapy Bucket of Merciful Deliverance. I was a little disconcerted at the bodily integrity of the slugs in the bucket -- perhaps it's a side effect of watching too many horror movies, but I have this tiny irrational fear that, since they're not melted, they might come back.

Reason enough to turn the compost pile and make sure it's cookin' ASAP.

Also, I'm not entirely sure what the optimal phosphate-free dish soap to water ratio is as far as reliably killing snails and slugs. I'm probably erring on the side of soap, but if I'm going to the trouble to pick these critters, I want them to end up dead, not just clean.

The gastropods today were at least half slugs. I'm getting better at catching them before the tumble to the ground to try to make a get-away; when I can, I just position the bucket underneath the plan they're climbing and gently shake.

There were snails today, too. A few of them were mid-sized, perhaps ones that traveled from the far corners of the yard (or who stayed hidden during my earlier forays), but many were tiny. Some especially brazen ones were closing in on my ripening strawberries.

We had words before they dropped into the bucket.

Today's take: 243 slugs and snails (in 35 minutes).

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You could always heat the Soapy Bucket of Merciful Deliverance. Soap is probably completely non-toxic to them. Anionic detergents are probably only irritating. The killing mechanism is probably hypoxia which for snails and slugs might not be that fast. They probably die within a few seconds of being heated above 60 C.

Something that would be toxic to the snails but not in your compost bed would be ammonia. At high pH ammonia is quite toxic, in the compost bed it is sufficiently acid that the ammonia is neutralized and would go into bacterial biomass.

You might put out things for them to hide under, opaque pieces of black plastic, that you can lift up and dip into your solution. That way they gather themselves.

I think detergent water probably drowns/suffocates the slugs. We use a bowl of sugar water with just a little detergent to attract yellowjackets that monopolize the hummingbird feeder. They gather for the sugar, slip into and under the water and expire.