HOW TO IDENTIFY THEM
Snails can be as tiny as 3mm long to over 3cm long. They are gastropods which in Latin means ‘gastro’ for stomach and ‘pod’ for foot. They protect their soft body with a hard shell which they can retreat into in danger and in hot weather. Snails have two pairs of tentacles. Their eyes are on the longest tentacles and the shorter tentacles are used for smelling and for feeling their way. Common garden snails are generally brown but they can also be white, cream and green.
Slugs have the same soft body as snails but although some do have shells, most of them do not.
Snails and slugs usually hang out in shaded damp areas such as under big leaves, in amongst strappy plants or in the hollows of logs and trees. They even hide in the shed or behind rocks.
THE DAMAGE THEY CAUSE
Both slugs and snail eat young seedlings, vegetables, herbs and small leaves. They will often eat a whole leaf just leaving the stalk behind and if a seedling completely disappears overnight, it has almost definitely been eaten be a hungry snail or slug.
Snails and slugs will sometimes move into the letterbox and eat the mail so if your birthday card has holes in it, don’t think that it was the postman!
HOW TO CONTROL THEM
Snails love to come out in to the garden at night to eat all of the vegetables and seedlings so you have to be very clever to catch them. Make snail traps by cutting oranges in half and squeezing out the juice and some of the pulp. Place these up side down in the garden in the afternoon and check them in the morning for any trapped snails. Terracotta pots turned on their side are also great snail traps.
A great snail trap can be made using Vegemite and a foil barbecue tray. Dig a shallow hole in the garden and put the foil tray in and push the soil back around so that the top is level with the surface of the soil. Dissolve 1tsp of Vegemite into 1 cup of warm water and pour it into the tray. Leave the tray in the garden overnight and check it for snails in the morning. It should last a few days before the liquid needs replacing, unless it gets washed away by rain.
Snails have rasping teeth which they use to chew on leaves.