Greedy gastropods wreaking havoc

STURDY: Made of tough stuff, it’s not easy to rid your garden of snails CREDIT: Shutterstock

GARDENERS who try to deter snails using natural methods such as wool pellets or eggshells, are apparently wasting their time.

According to a study by the Royal Horticultural Society, gastropods were as destructive towards lettuces which were protected by these and other means, like copper tape, horticultural grit and pine bark mulch, as they were to those left untreated.

At a research facility in the UK, the RHS tested the methods on 108 lettuces with and without, sown in pots and raised beds.


After six weeks, the leaves were examined.

It was found that the lettuces planted in the ground were found to be more susceptible to snails and slugs, with 5.7 per cent of each eaten on average.

Just 0.2 per cent those in pots had been consumed, but in spite of this they yielded less crop.

Researchers believe the natural methods were ineffective because gastropods have a thick mucus which allows them to glide over sharp barriers.

But while they didn’t deter the ‘pests’, the wool pellets and pine bark did act as a fertiliser and mulch, helping yield a 50 per cent bigger crop.

Dr Hayley Jones of the RHS, recommended using proven formulas like nermatode biological control if the damage caused by snails is too much to bear.

These are microscopic parasitic worms that feed upon molluscs but also risk killing non-pest garden species if over applied.

Previous research has shown that gardeners who hand pick snails must move them more than 20 metres away, because their homing instinct can help them return.

While it’s a time consuming method, Dr Jones claims it is definitely the most environmentally friendly way to clear your garden of snails.

Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.

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