These are very common pests that attack a wide range of garden plants especially seedlings, new plantings, flowers and vegetables. They are found throughout the year but are common after rain. You can always tell when they have been around as they leave behind a characteristic silvery slimy trail during the night when they go feeding. Young snails and slugs will skeletonise leaves, whereas older ones will chew and destroy whole leaves with their tongue, a rasping organ known as radula.
The best way to control snails and slugs is to remove their habitat and food. They like to hide in weedy plants as well as under mulch, or piles of debris such as timber and bricks. Tidy up these areas and check throughout the season to find and remove them. Also check under the rim or base of your pot plants as this is a great breeding spot for them.
They can be controlled with hand removal (squash or drown in soapy water) and traps (such as beer traps) or barriers such as eggshells, wood shavings or coffee grinds. For young seedlings create a mini- greenhouse by cutting off the bottom of a plastic drink bottle and upturning it over your young plants.
There are a few natural enemies such as earwigs, some birds, frogs and lizards. If the damage becomes severe, there are also commercial snail baits – use organic baits based on iron which don’t poison other creatures.
A healthy garden can also help prevent pest infestation. If your plants are strong and healthy, they may be able to handle and reduce the stress of pests and diseases. Applying Seasol regularly every two weeks during the year can help them to cope with environmental stress. Keeping plants fed with fertilisers such as PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives, better watering and appropriate light exposure can also help build tougher plants.