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Snail strategy and sympathy.

Snail strategy and sympathy

The final word still isn't in on snails andslugs. Last April, we published an article on how gardeners are coping with them, and many readers wrote us in response.

Some gardeners expressed enthusiasm forvarious controls we recommended, and some offered additional suggestions. But we were brought up short for stating that "slugs have no fans.'

Two letters expressed deep slug sympathy."I find it impossible to hate a creature as absolutely plain as a slug,' wrote Lois Grace of San Jose. Nancy Clasen of Renton, Washington, declared an appreciation of slugs based on their good works and decorative contributions: "Besides their work with the environment, slugs leave behind terrific art work . . .. Just look at your sidewalks.'

Opossums, fertilizer, oyster shells: more ways to do in snailsand slugs

Other letters focused on ways to bring aquick demise to these mollusks.

One reader who'd had "a horrible year ofslippery snails and slugs' explained that her troubles ended when a family of opossums moved in. They consume both snails and slugs in quantity. Raccoons also like to munch mollusks. Visits from these animals may bring other garden problems, but if encouraging intruders with an appetite for slugs and snails seems more important to you, try to keep neighborhood dogs from scaring them away. And you can set out water to attract them.

If you are concerned about using tablesalt on snails or slugs (in quantity, it can be harmful to garden soil), try the suggestion of Robert R. Coats of Aptos, California. He sprinkles a very small quantity of fertilizer (ammonium sulfate or ammononium nitrate) on the slimy creatures, causing them to dehydrate. Hand-picking may be no more trouble, but sprinkling may have more appeal to the squeamish.

Although many people hand-pick snails,most still don't like the process, and some find it repellent. A few readers remarked that they "hire' less squeamish children to do the job. At 5 cents a snail (or 1 cent if the numbers are great), you can reduce the snail population at a reasonable cost.

Barrier materials still get mixed reviews,but a few more votes were received for one of the more unusual of them: crushed oyster shells. Feed stores sell this material for about 25 cents per pound. Another barrier you might want to experiment with is diatomaceous earth (a chalk-like material derived from tiny plankton). Used mainly for pool filters, this product sells for about $8 for a 25-pound bag at pool supply stores.

Finally, one letter recommended a homemadebait holder. A mayonnaise jar, set on its side, holds bait (such as metaldehyde) but keeps rain from washing it into the soil. However, if you have pets, you should use a commercial holder with a smaller opening.
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Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Mar 1, 1987
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