Do snails do something good

What helps against slugs in the garden?

Status: May 19, 2021 11:29 a.m.

Hungry nudibranchs are a nuisance for any gardener. Many alleged home remedies cannot do anything against the animals. What really helps against snails in the garden?

In many gardens, under cover of darkness, whole hordes of slugs crawl out of their hiding places and attack flowers and vegetables. They can hardly be stopped in their urge to eat, especially in damp weather.

Spanish slugs have hardly any predators

Almost 90 percent of the damage caused by eating in vegetable patches and flower borders comes from the Spanish slug (Arion vulgaris). It was introduced to Germany in the 1960s and has almost no natural predators here. Toads, hedgehogs and birds, which otherwise like to eat snails, avoid them. The animals secrete so much mucus that the beneficial insects would suffocate on it. From the outside, the Spanish slug can hardly be distinguished from the native red slug (Arion rufus).

Tiger snail eats eggs

A natural enemy of the Spanish slug: the tiger snail.

However, the Spanish slug has a natural enemy: the tiger snail, a 10 to 20 centimeter long slug from the snail family. This beneficial insect not only eats rotting parts of plants and dead animals, but also the eggs of the Spanish slug. He is even supposed to attack the animals. Tiger snails should therefore not be fought under any circumstances. This also applies, for example, to the protected Roman snails and banded snails.

Methods against snails in the garden

Of course, it is best if the snails do not even get to the garden plants. The combination of the following methods has proven itself:

  • Coat flower pots and flower beds with a special ecological, transparent protective coating, which you can buy in hardware stores, for example. Nudibranchs cannot find a hold on the smooth surface.
  • Always give vegetable patches an open, sunny spot in the garden
  • Eliminate hiding spots such as tall grass near endangered beds
  • Only water the root area of ​​the plants and keep the soil fine and dry
  • Draw snail fences (available from specialist retailers) around particularly endangered beds
  • Spreading natural inhibitions around beds: lime, sawdust, bark mulch and coffee grounds do not like slugs

Track snail eggs in late summer and autumn

In autumn garden owners should take precautions for the next year, because the snails take care of their offspring in late summer and autumn. Each snail lays up to 400 eggs. Certain places are preferred, such as under the rain barrel or in cracks and crevices in the garden floor. The clutches should be found and the eggs removed.

Beer traps attract even more snails

If all the precautionary measures have failed, there are several ways to get rid of the slugs. Beer traps are not recommended. These attract snails en masse, which then fall into the beer and drown. Unfortunately, however, the smell also attracts the snails from neighboring gardens and thus rather increases the problem.

Collect many snails at once with salad traps

A "salad bar" for slugs makes it easier to collect the nuisances.

In order to be able to collect 20 to 30 snails in one fell swoop, the salad trap has proven itself: In the evening, "hide" individual lettuce leaves under a wet sack in the garden and just wait: the very next day, many snails have gathered under the sack to be around To enjoy yourself at the "salad bar".

Moist boards are an alternative to salad. Simply put the moistened boards next to the vegetable patch in the evening. At night the snails crawl under the cool and damp boards after they have had a big meal. The fully eaten animals can simply be collected, they must not be put on the compost under any circumstances. Other places snails like to hide are piles of leaves, clippings, and dead wood. They feel good wherever it is damp and dark. Who knows the hiding places, saves a long search in the garden.

Use slug pellets exactly according to the manufacturer's instructions

Anyone who uses slug pellets should definitely pay close attention to the respective manufacturer's information and choose the most environmentally friendly product. The well-known active ingredient methiocarb may neither be sold nor used. We recommend an active ingredient that is also approved for organic farming, namely iron phosphate.

Iron phosphate is converted in the soil by microorganisms and special waste products from plants into metabolic products that are available to plants - iron and phosphate are known to be plant nutrients. The active ingredient is harmless to pets and wild animals such as hedgehogs. The slug pellet lures the slugs out of their hiding places, and shortly after they have taken up the bait it stops them from eating. After a few days, the pests die.

Fight nudibranchs with roundworms

The use of nematodes of the genus Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita is relatively expensive. These are roundworms that invade the snails and secrete a poisonous bacterium. The snails die after about six to ten days. The extent to which the nematodes also act against the Spanish slug is, however, controversial. If you still want to try it, you should double the number of roundworms.

This also applies to heavy garden soils, as the nematodes are more difficult to move in this environment. Under no circumstances should nematodes be used near bodies of water, as they also kill water snails. In addition, one should make sure that no roundworms get on edible parts of the plant. Wash hands thoroughly after application.

Lively alternative: rent ducks

A pair of ducks can keep around 1,000 square meters of garden space free from snails.

The orange nudibranch is one of the favorite foods of the Indian runner duck. More and more garden owners are taking advantage of this. With their keen sense of smell, ducks hunt down the slugs in their daytime hiding places and then carry them to the water, where they are greedily devoured. The water is important so that the ducks can wash the snails and not choke on them, which is particularly important with young ducks. A pond in which you can also swim is best suited for this.

If you don't want to buy a pair of ducks right away that is enough to keep a garden of up to 1,000 square meters free of snails, you can also borrow the gadgets. Despite their advantages in the garden, one should not buy runner ducks rashly. As with all animals, the prerequisites for species-appropriate husbandry must be met.

Some plants do not like nudibranchs

If you want to save yourself the hassle right from the start, be careful when planning the flower beds to select plants that are not necessarily on the slugs' menu. Fortunately, there are quite a number of beautiful plants that snails tend to avoid or even repel. These include intensely smelling herbs such as rosemary and thyme, poisonous beauties such as monkshood and foxglove, as well as grasses and ferns. Thick-fleshed plants such as houseleek and fat hen are also not popular with nudibranchs.

Unpopular vegetables: choice is limited

When it comes to vegetables, the options are much more limited, the snails eat almost everything, especially green lettuce. For example, radishes, radishes, spinach, beetroot, tomatoes, celery, chives, onions, parsley and endives are mostly spurned. Tip: A raised bed at least makes it difficult for snails to access the vegetables.

Five tips against snails

Coffee, wool, foil: gardening professional Peter Rasch shows what snails don't like at all. At the same time, the natural methods do not harm the garden either. Picture gallery

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My afternoon | 06/18/2020 | 4:20 pm