Snails and slugs won’t harm your lawn but the impact they may have on your garden can be, well, slimy. The most notorious snail and slug pests are the brown garden snail (Corpo aspersum), the white garden snail (Theba pisana), and grey field slug (Deroceras reticulatum). Learn how to safely, and effectively manage snails and slugs the Sunday way.
Snails and slugs are very different from their insect neighbors. They belong to a group called mollusks. Like many mollusks, snails and slugs move by gliding along on a muscular “foot”. This “foot” constantly secretes mucus, creating a telltale snail or slug slime trail. Seeing a slime trail is a great way to know if snails or slugs are living in or around your garden!
Did You Know: Octopuses, clams, and squids are all members of the mollusk family as well, making them close relatives of snails and slugs!
While snails and slugs are found nationwide, they are most active in cool, damp weather and at night. They are not fans of the sun and enter dormancy in extreme heat or cold. In the yard, snails and slugs are typically found on moist, wet surfaces like tree trunks, fences, or walls and under objects like wood and stones.
It’s important to note that these slimy critters are only pests when they are eating your garden veggies. Outside of the garden, they provide important ecological benefits. Snails and slugs are food for birds, mammals, and insects. They also help to recycle nutrients back into the soil by breaking down organic matter.
While snails and slugs are not an issue in lawns, they are known to damage gardens and other landscape plants. Seedlings (including turfgrass seedlings) and fruiting plants (like strawberries) are common victims of snail and slug feeding activity. Leaves and stems with ragged edges and irregular shaped holes are indicative of snail and slug activity.
Sunday Tip: Thinking of starting a garden? Sunday can help you grow your green thumb!
Invasive Snails and Slugs
Some snails and slugs cause more damage than others. Both the brown garden snail (Corpo aspersum) and the white garden snail (Theba pisana) are invasive. This means that they are not native to your area and not only feed on your plants but they also compete with native snail species for resources, causing negative effects on your yard’s ecosystem.
Sunday utilizes an Integrative Pest Management approach to help you manage snails and slugs. This approach relies on the prevention and management of pests rather than immediate chemical treatment.
To prevent snails and slugs:
For next steps, Sunday recommends these easy cultural removal practices.
Curran, P. Snails & Slugs Q&A. Cornell Cooperative Extension: Tompkins County.
Deisler et al. White Garden Snail. University of Florida: IFAS Extension.
Jackman, J.A. Snails and Slugs. Texas A&M Extension: Entomology.
Oregon State University Extension. Slug.
Reiners et al. Section 24.6.11: Slugs and Snails. New York State IPM.
Utah State University IPM. Brown Garden Snail.
Wilen, C. A., & Flint, M. L. Snails and Slugs. UC IPM.