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Snails are soft-bodied, terrestrial molluscs that produce hard shells which they can withdraw into. They move by gliding their muscular foot over a layer of mucus which is secreted underneath. This enables them to easily climb vertical surfaces. Snails are usually nocturnal, feeding on a wide range of tender plants and seedlings. During spring and autumn, snails mate and lay clusters of almost transparent yellowy-white eggs under stones and logs. During the winter months, snails can often be found dormant in large groups within sheltered locations.
Seedlings can be totally devoured by snails whilst larger plants will suffer feeding damage in the form of irregular holes on leaves.
Plants that are known to be susceptible to snail damage could be protected by surrounding the plants with one or more of the many different physical barriers that are commercially available from garden product retailers. However, collecting and removing snails by hand whenever they are found is a safe and effective way to reduce populations from building up to unmanageable levels. Predators such as thrushes, hedgehogs and toads should be encouraged into gardens where snails can be problematic.
If snail numbers have to be reduced and hand collecting is not possible, then as a last resort organic molluscicidal pellets containing Iron phosphate (Ferric phosphate) are available from garden product retailers.
Water flowerbeds at dusk and then go out when dark using a torch to collect snails.