Snails can be easily found all around us, and everyone reacts to them differently, depending on their perception of them. In this article, we will be discussing how to get rid of snails when they are pests destroying your garden. Let us see how long do garden snails live?
The garden snail, also called Helix aspersa by biologists, is one of the world’s best-known species. This species is native to Europe but now found in other parts of the world as well that damages crops and gardens. The species is thriving and, hence, easily found.
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What are some core features of garden snails?
The garden snail is an air-breathing creature with a soft brown body. A unique characteristic of its autonomy is that it has one lung. The snail’s body is covered with a wet, gooey slime and a shell that is uniquely colored.
These shells are light-yellow or cream in color and covered with brown stripes in a spiral pattern. This species’ shell has a height of about 0-9-1.3 inches and a width of 0.9-1.5 inches. As a snail grows older, a lip appears at its edge when a snail is old.
It is a small mollusk with a shell that has a sphere shape and a slightly rough surface, with about 4 or 5 spirals. Not all snails have a shell of the same color; some have a dark brown shell, but most snails have shells in light brown or with a golden hue. Also, it shows several brown or yellow stripes. This shell has a large opening with white edges.
Garden snails have a soft body protected by the shell, but it retracts to its shell when it is not feeding or when it feels threatened. Like tortoises and turtles, snails have slimy protection around their shells that protects them from predators.
Furthermore, garden snails move by gliding with the help of its powerful foot and the mucus its body produces to lubricate surfaces. Snails leave a trace of this mucus when they move around.
Garden snails can be found in Great Britain, the Mediterranean, Western Europe, North African countries, including Egypt, in the Iberian Peninsula, and the Middle East, including Turkey. They live peacefully in areas of temperate climate, whether inhabited by humans or not. Snails prefer living in areas with dense grass or leaves, like forests, hedges, farms, parks, and gardens.
What do they eat?
Garden snails are herbivorous and consume many types of plant matter. They can find sustenance from wood, leaves, grass, flowers, herbs, etc. Snails can sometimes also add decomposing, rotting organic matter to its diet. Since snails like to munch on crops and other organic matter, they are considered pests and not liked by many farmers and gardeners.
The mouth of garden snail is under its tentacles. It breaks down its food using the ribbon covering the mouth called a radula. Such anatomy is only found in mollusks.
How to count their age?
A research study about the population of these snails in England was able to work out their age. As they get older, you can count growth rings on their shells’ edges.
Some of snails were around six years old, while others were around eight or nine years old. The older snails were found to have thick shells.
Scientists conducting the study theorized that the hard shells made it difficult for predators to attack them, which made it easier for the snails to move about. So, a snail that lives long enough to become large can live as long as 10 to 15 years. It depends on what type of snail you have found or gotten.
The durations of snails’ lives depends on their species. Predators such as beetles, birds, and other animals feed on these snails, which is why most don’t make it through their first year. Many are eaten while still being eggs! Snails raised in captivity have been known to live for ten to fifteen years or more.
Some have gone on record as being 25 years old. This seems like an abnormally long time, so perhaps there is something to be said for living the slow life. A snail’s lifespan also depends on its surroundings as well as type.
Some snails can live as long as twenty-five years if care is taken. Snails have the propensity to live as long as 25 years of age, especially those raised carefully. With sufficient care under supervision, snails can live for a very long time.
How to Get Rid Of Snails From Your Garden?
1# Use Salt
Snails and salt do not go well together at all. Not to exaggerate, but you have signed a death sentence for a snail when you sprinkle salt on them. People who try to control the rate of snail activity in their gardens understand this and take advantage of this knowledge by controlling their activities and population.
Salt is lethal to snails and will cause their death if they come in contact with them. Ensure that the snail you are raising is not in contact with salt. You must never be ignorant of the fact that their body cannot process salt.
2# Use predatory animals
Garden snails are food to some animals like lizards, frogs, ducks, and worms. Moreover, snails are also considered a delicacy among humans as well; hence, in a way, humans are also predators for them. Garden snails are edible and used in cooking. However, you cannot make the more renowned and in-demand Escargot from garden snails.
3# Using Traps
A typical snail trap is the beer pan. Fill a shallow pan with beer and leave it out overnight. The snails will be attracted to the beer and drown in it. You will have to replace the beer every few days for the process to remain effective.
Alternatively, you can trap the snails by creating a damp and cold environment they like on a firm surface like cardboard, carpet, or thick cloth. Create a wet area and place the object in it. In a few days, you will see it populated with snails. You can then remove the object and the snail with it.
4# Gritty Substances
Many gritty substances can be used as effective snail repellents. The snail’s body get cuts after moving on gritty substances. You can sprinkle crushed eggshells, sand, or coarse dirt around plants the snails prefer, and it will get these pests out of your garden.
5# Create Barriers
Barriers are also great as snail repellents. Put a barrier in the way of the snails like mesh, Vaseline, copper wire. It will help repel garden snails from your plants.
With these effective repellants and methods of snail control, you’ll be able to ensure that snails never bother your crops again.
6# Manual Removal
Removing snails from your garden by hand does not require any products or technical procedures; however, it does take time. Moreover, this solution may not rid of your snail problem completely. Instead, you would have to touch and hold mucus-covered snails.
If you can take the time to patiently find and remove snails, you will need to check your garden regularly. When you find one or more, you will need to pick them off of your plants and move them at least 20 feet away from plants that you do not want them to consume.
7# Copper Usage
Copper causes snails to feel an electrical shock that makes them change their direction and go away. This reaction takes place due to the interaction of copper with the mucus. You can remove snails using this method with convenience by using copper tape that is available at most home improvement stores. Cover the borders of your garden with the tape, and it will stop snails from entering.
If you do not want to purchase copper tape or just happen to have a jar of copper coins lying around, you can also use pennies or quarters to protect your garden. When using pennies, you can glue them to your garden bed to keep them in place. Keep the coins close to each other; otherwise, snails can move through the opening and enter the garden.
One more easy way to deter snails from entering your garden is to surround your plants and garden with coffee grounds around your plants or the borders of your garden. Not only do coffee grounds repel snails, but they also provide nutrients to the soil. Coffee grounds act as a great repellant of snails and can remove them from your property for good.
How Do Snails Behave?
The garden snail is an earthly species with nocturnal habits; it does most of its activities at night or very early in the morning. However, you can expect them in your garden if it rains during the day since the wet surfaces make roam around easy for snails.
In hot or drought periods, garden snails go inside their shells and close the opening with ‘epiphragm,’ which is a type of mucus. It keeps the moisture inside while the snail retreats to avoid attacks from animals, like some ants. After doing this, the garden snail enters a state of inactivity compared to hibernation.
However, this process is not found in all snails. For example, in Southern California, young snails are often active throughout the year. Some snails lie dormant in winter in a manner similar to hibernation; this is mostly observed in mature snails. They come out of it around the time of spring. Furthermore, garden snails are extremely slow as their fastest speed is only 1.3 centimeters per second.
How Do They Reproduce?
Garden snails are hermaphrodites, having reproductive organs and cells of both males and females. They still usually mate with another snail for fertilization, even though self-fertilization is possible for this species.
Garden snails can reproduce after 1 to 2 years of its life, and they start breeding in summer. The mating process is relatively short, but it can prolong due to slow movements.
The male and female snails touch each other, and then each inserts the other with a mucus-covered calcium structure, commonly known as the ‘love dart,’ which helps with the spermatozoa’s survival.
Both snails penetrate each other with their penises, and the sperm is transferred and stored until the eggs reach maturation and can be fertilized. This process can take between 4 and 12 hours.
Mating lasts for 3 to 6 days and produces around 80 eggs. Each snail will make a nest in the soil by digging a hole with its foot to deliver its eggs. They make a nest by 1 to 1.5 inches deep in the soil, and they store their eggs in the nest after that. The eggs can optimally hatch in two weeks. Gardens snails can produce eggs six times in a single year, and each newborn will take one to two years to mature.
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The garden snail is not threatening or dangerous, but given that it is considered a pest, humans try to kill them to avoid damage to their gardens. Furthermore, this snail is edible. In some countries like France and Spain, they catch them for food. It has also acquired popularity in the cosmetic industry because of the regenerative properties of their mucus.
I am Elsa, love gardening. I spent lots of time with plants, flowers, it gives me lots of happiness.
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