Be Gone Garden Snails!

I thought they were cute kissing outside my front doorstep. I’ve seen them before and never thought twice about them — snails are good, right? (Wait, don’t laugh at me yet, it gets better.)

So here I am looking at these two cute little creatures doing their thing under the moonlight and my evil twin (she’s everywhere I go) realizes she has plenty of time to go grab her camera. “I must document and research!” she exclaimed to the slow moving creatures, who didn’t seem very interested and went about doing what they intended to do.

Who knew snails (most of them anyway) are hermaphrodites? Well maybe you knew but I was completely unaware, as was my evil twin. Even though they are gifted with the best of both worlds, they still mate with a partner. Like in any crowd there is the occasional loner who likes to take matters into their own hands, but all in all Zachrysia provisoria enjoy companionship and in my front yard, romance was in the air.

These little guys are pretty rare in North America, found only in a few counties in South Florida. It lives among leaf litter and ornamental plantings, frolicking about (and mating on my walkway!) in the cooler evenings. Now, I’m thinking to myself “I’ve got a really big win here. Rare snails mating in my yard, this is fantastic!”

At that moment I wondered if there was a way to enjoy the profits without the evil twin’s knowledge, then silently debated on wanting to clean up that big of a mess, when she burst out with information concerning the eating habit of these little devils. It didn’t look good. Zachrysia provisoria are vegetarian which, hey, to each their own, but if it’s not the weeds you’re eating you’ve got to go. These thick, brown-shell-wearing heathens have an appetite for things I like to eat; among them citrus, mango and star fruit. They seem to enjoy crepe myrtle as well. If they were only going to eat crepe myrtle I may have let them live, I’m allergic to crepe myrtle. But these snails aren’t just an average garden nuisance. They’re a quarantine problem in South Florida and are often times shipped out to other areas.

“OK. It’s me or you” I say to the love dart wielding lovers as my evil twin snaps photographs. They didn’t seem very intimidated but I knew my garden (and possibly the world) would thank me when I triumphed in the end.

I’m not one for chemicals in my garden so I searched for a safer alternative to rid my yard of these vile and disgusting creatures that I can’t believe I originally found cute ‘” what was I thinking! I found two methods that seemed easy and effective. My evil twin argued the crushing (yuck!) or salt (again, yuck!) methods would be much more entertaining, but I reminded her who has the upper hand in these situations and suggested we go with less gruesome alternatives. She reluctantly agreed and listed below are two safer, less violent-seeming suggestions.

1. Coffee or espresso. Cuban by birth, these little brown-shelled immigrants prefer fresh ground. Use the grinds as mulch in your garden or spray the soil and leaves with brewed coffee.
2. Beer. It seems little ravers are not as selective when it comes to beer, any old beer will do. Dig into the ground enough so a disposable pie plate (you can use your own glass plate if you want but please don’t cook anything on it for me, ever) is level with the ground. Pour in a can of beer and wait for the party to begin.

Either of these methods seems effective in ridding your yard of snails and whichever you choose, in the morning the birds enjoy a tasty escargot treat.

Sources: Personal experience, Wikipedia, my Mom.