Snail eradication (day 21).

This morning was dry and cool and overcast, so the pickings were slim.

I went right to the places where gastropods have been found hiding on mornings like this and came up empty.

Actually, since I cleared some weeds (and some piles of previously whacked weeds and tall grass) yesterday, I figured that maybe there were just fewer hiding places left. It's even possible that when the piles of weeds and tall grass went into the green bin to go to the municipal composting, some slugs and snails went with their hiding places to be composted.

So, despite the lack of snails and slugs to pick, I felt like I was making some progress.

Then I checked my email.

Friend of the blog Pinko Punko sent me a plot of the snail and slug totals from the first 20 days of the eradication project.

i-e5d71d91cc4e5fddcc648a35edbe26d5-EradicationPlot.jpg

The message that accompanied this plot:

Regression of snail/slug numbers suggests slugs may be infinite, snails finite.

Sigh. Just call me Sisyphus.

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Another overcast, cool, and dry morning today. The pickings were extremely slim. However, it also bears mentioning that the amount of visible gastropod damage to my plants -- especially my food crops -- is greatly reduced since I began my snail eradication campaign less then a month ago. I'm going…
This morning was cool, overcast, and very dry. There was no discernible dew on the grass. In other words, not conditions in which the gastropods come out to play. Having some experience of this kind of weather earlier in the snail eradication campaign, I went right for the well-insulated hiding…
This morning, once again, was dry and overcast, although not as cold as it has been. Because I know this is low-yield gastropod-picking weather, I went right to the most likely locations: the bottom of the watering can and the new snail and slug shelters. Nothing. I thought about watering near the…
This morning was overcast, cool, and dry. But, as it wasn't a school day, I was determined to get some gastropod action. This wasn't easy, as the snails and slugs didn't seem to be in any of their reliable hang-outs. Not even a single slug on the watering can. My strawberries have still been…

Keep posting the numbers! Maybe you will turn the corner!

I dreamt about cleaning snails out of an aquarium last night. This blog is pervasive.

By Pinko Punko (not verified) on 29 May 2009 #permalink

Dr Sisyphus,

Whilst rolling a boulder into your garden may squish a few gastropods, so would tap-dancing naked on the lawn. Neither, however, is an effective gastropod control technique. Admittedly, both techniques are probably good exercise. And naked tap-dancing is less likely to also squish whatever remains of your garden. Nonetheless, neither is too effective against gastropods. I suggest finding another control technique.

Once upon a time a tiny snail came out of the faucet of a lab sink. I decided not to kill it, since there was another sink nearby. Then there were several tiny snails â dunno if the original one was pregnant or favored virgin birth. I kept the sink wet for them. The population grew, not exponentially but pretty rapidly (I made a running census.) Presumably they were feeding on an otherwise undetected biofilm. After a while there were more snails than unoccupied space; by this time the census was by estimation. Then the population crashed to extinction â not suddenly, but rapidly. Etiology unknown; mebbe they ran out of delicious biofilm, or mebbe the snails selected the biofilm into something too distasteful. Or mebbe something else.

This suggests two strategies:
1) remove all greenery except the garden, leaving bare ground that could even be paved over.
2) find out what, if anything, the local gastropodians won't eat and replace the extraneous greenery with that.

That either strategy may cure the disease but kill the patient just provides something to evaluate ethically.