If they fly they die…if they crawl they fall”
SNAILS (Helix aspersa)
Introduced from France during the 1850s for use as food, the Brown Garden
Snail is the most common snail causing problems in southern California landscapes.
As a pest, snails and slugs are among the most bothersome pests in the commercial
landscape. Both are of the mollusk phylum. The brown garden snail is about
1 inch in diameter at maturity and has a distinct color pattern. The shell
of the garden snail is light brown with dark brown bands following the spiral
of the shell. Colorations can vary from pale yellow to almost black. Snails
and slugs move by gliding along on a muscular “foot.” This muscle
constantly secretes mucus, which later dries to form the silvery “slime
trail” that indicates the presence of either pest.
Snails are most active during the night and early morning when it is damp.
They are also active on cloudy or foggy days. In southern California, particularly
along the coast, young snails are active throughout the year. Irrigated, commercial,
landscapes allow them to be active the year around. Garden snails are very
prolific. They lay as many as 80 eggs, six times a year—that’s
480 snails per female in one year!
Snails and slugs feed on a variety of landscape plants as well as on decaying
plant matter. They chew irregular holes the smooth leaves and flowers and do
severe damage, particularly to herbaceous and succulent plants.
During hot, dry periods or when it is cold, snails seal themselves off with
a parchment-like membrane and attach themselves to building walls and windows.
This is the time when snails may be the most destructive and costly to building
owners and property managers. The slimy secretions that snails use to seal
themselves off are very acidic and can cause permanent damage. Pestgon has
been called in, where snail secretions have etched paint, concrete surfaces,
tile, marble and even glass windows. The circular etchings can often be seen
on expensive, mirrored glass windows of office buildings, especially those
windows near the ground.
Pestgon believes that the first consideration to the control of garden snails
in the commercial landscape is, irrigation practices. The goal should be to
eliminate the damp harborage areas. Choice of plant species also plays a role
in preventing snails as a serious pest. There are also pesticidal baits that
can be used according ornamental label instructions. Pestgon is often asked
to include snails as a regular part of pest control services.