Anyone who has ever had a garden probably knows that seeing a slug or snail is cause for much more worry than just the general icky-ness they present. These slimy insects can wreak havoc on a garden, especially those gardens that include fruit plants or trees, which slugs and snails seem to prefer.

Since slugs and snails are hermaphrodites, they don’t need a mate to take over your garden, but they can in fact create a serious population problem. In one season, a slug or snail can lay up to 500 eggs. Since they tend to reproduce during warmer climates, it’s best to get a pest control regimen in place before they have a chance to procreate.

Many people are familiar with the old “pour salt on the slugs and snails and watch them shrivel up” philosophy. However, pest control agents do not recommend this method because it can alter the chemical make-up of your ground, causing even more damage than what’s already occurred due to the slugs and snails. Believe it or not, beer is the answer. They find the smell alluring and drown in the hoppy concoction. And best yet, no pesticides required. If you don’t want to go the death route, pest control experts suggest just moving them to another location, far away from your garden.

But of course the best route is to deter slugs and snails from coming to your garden in the first place. If you have the option, change your plants so that your garden is filled with less-enticing plants (see above regarding their preference for fruit plants and trees). Baits and traps can be set and should be used before cooler temperatures turn into warmer climates, since slugs and snails hibernate during the winter. If you’re not keen on chemicals, pest control agents say there are traps that use electricity rather than chemicals to keep these plant-munching critters away from your gorgeous garden. If you do opt for poison, you may also want to use another method for back-up, as experience has shown that poison alone does not stop them from doing damage. Using poison also runs the risk of harming other wildlife, plants and possibly pets and children.

Although snails and slugs look harmless enough (just kind of gross and slimy, maybe), they are actually quite destructive to domestic and commercial gardens. They can cause so much damage that it is best to have an effective pest control regimen in place to stop the damage before it begins. First you should know a little about these squishy insects.

Snails and slugs are mollusks. The slimy trail they leave behind as they squirm all over your pavement and plants is what allow them to stay alive, since they need to be moist. This slime also helps them move around. These bugs are hermaphrodites, so they can populate your garden all by themselves without any help. Pest control specialists say you may find them attached to garden fences or other structures near plants when the temperature becomes much cooler.

There is a small difference between the two insects. Snails have shells that give them protection. Slugs are basically the same insect, but without a shell. Both can stretch their bodies quite far and both have a set of antenna and eyes. Although they enjoy any type of foliage, they are partial to fruit plants such as tomatoes, strawberries, lemon trees, etc.

During the winter, snails and slugs hibernate, sometimes in your home in a warm, dark, damp location. They don’t like the sun much since the heat and light can dry out their mucus. When they reproduce, they can lay up to 500 eggs in one season, however that is not to say all will survive. Their life expectancy is about four years, but most tend to die off before then.

If you have a persistent snail or slug problem, be sure to save your garden by calling your local pest control authorities.

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