Sunday, January 27, 2013

WHEN GOOD SNAILS GO BAD

Three years ago I was extolling the virtues of the decollate snail, Rumina decollata. You can read the whole story here

Conical Rumina decollata
Having discovered several of these conical-shelled snails in my garden in December of 2009, which I promptly disposed of, I headed into the house to do some research. Oh! no, I have killed good snails. These snail eats other snails. My research had taken me to an article which Debra Lee Baldwin had researched for Sunset magazine. I needn't have worried about the loss because once again the snails started showing up in large numbers. I let them go about their business. The small snails, which eat little seedlings and gnaw at the base of violas, soon began to disappear. I was hoping they would eat pill bugs too. All was well, until.....


I was wondering why no larkspur are showing up in the herb beds this year. As I loosened the mulch I came across these tiny white sticks. Then I realized what they were; they were the denuded stems of larkspur. I rooted a little more and found a nest of decollate snails. Very distraught I began gathering them up: rooting through the mulch. Boy there were some woppers.


I began the trapping process the old-fashioned way as my mum did in our garden in England: a tasty grapefruit shell and a little hand picking too. Some I gathered and flung over the wall for the roadrunner. They don't climb, so claims the article. I have disposed of hundreds and from now on no snail shall make its home here. Yesterday, I discovered one had eaten a young bluebonnet seedling. Is that why there are no bluebonnets in the sunken garden this year I wonder.
So I am sorry Debra I beg to differ. Decollate snails do eat seedlings and they do climb: witness the ones hiding in the holes in my limestone boulders. The only way in there is to climb up or down.

Thanks to my friend, at The Transplantable Rose, who suggested the title for this post. I was sharing my story with her when she complained about lost seedlings. "Maybe you have decollate snails" I say. Today she checked and she does, and that's when she gave me the idea for the post title.

5 comments:

  1. Often times my own anecdotal evidence seems to go against what "experts" say, so I have to trust my gut instinct. I recall your original post about the snails and was surprised that they didn't eat seedlings. But I'm glad you shared an update! I haven't seen those here in Northern California...and I hope I never do.

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  2. Jenny, I'm missing larkspur seedlings so far, too. Bluebonnets look okay, but usually larkspur is right behind them. Looks like I'll be on a snail hunt soon.

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  3. Naughty snails. At least the roadrunners will get a tasty treat.

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  4. Darn those little buggers! Snails ate all my lettuce, spinach, chard this year. Almost overnight as my veggie beds are small. sniff.

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  5. I'd just ask that you all keep this in mind - every living thing feels pain. If it's at all possible, please relocate -a field, anywhere safe. Effort, yes, but if you don't like the idea of your house pet suffering, well, just keep in mind, these little guys suffer just like them - and us!
    And a couple of facts that some entomologists have completely wrong - snails climb - very, very high indeed; I've had to reach for some of mine, and I'm 5'9", nuf' said. Also, 'they' say decollates won't eat their own eggs, but will the common garden snails'. Sadly, I learned the hard way, they will not only eat their own eggs, but their own tiny baby snails, too. FYI, imagine a teeny, tiny version of your decollates above, shell a centimeter long, it is cute beyond words. That's all, thanks for reading. And remember - do no harm!

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