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Snails and slugs are a common nuisance in many gardens and plant collections. They will eat almost any plant, chewing straight through tender leaves and causing significant holes. Indoor plants are mostly safe from snails but they can appear in plant cabinets and other growing spaces with high humidity.
SYMPTOMS & IDENTIFICATION
Snails and slugs are types of mollusks, meaning that they do not have internal skeletons. However, snails are protected by (and are easily identified by) their shells. Both can cause a fair amount of damage to your plants.
Snails mainly harm the leaves of your plants, leaving large holes where they have fed on the plant
They often leave a trail of mucus where they've been
They can be found on the undersides of leaves, on the stem, in the soil or under the pot - they tend to like finding places to hide
The easiest and fastest way is to manually remove the snails and place them somewhere else
Make sure to also check for hidden snails - look in dark, tight spaces like in buckets or around your pots. Try to allow for good air circulation between your plants and avoid crowding them together
But in more serious cases:
There are different types of bacteria or nematodes you can use to control the population
If this doesn't work you can always use traps, barriers or repellents that are specialized for keeping snails away. As a last resort, there are a number of effective pesticides you could use. Unfortunately many of these are known to be detrimental to wildlife so use with caution.
CAN I PREVENT THIS IN THE FUTURE?
Try to water your plants in the morning so that they have the chance to dry out properly before snails become active in the evening/night if growing outdoors.
Snails and slugs might hitchhike with soil, on the plant or in the pot but rarely stay for long in indoor conditions.
QUESTIONS ABOUT SNAILS
ARE MY PLANTS AT RISK? If you keep your plants indoors all year round, slugs and snails shouldn’t be a problem for you. However, if you have plants outside at any point, you run the risk of getting them on your plant or bringing them in on the pot. Because they’re not picky about what types of plants they feed on, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on all of your outdoor plants for damage.
HOW LONG DO THEY LIVE? Most common land snails live for around 1-3 years, however, they are known to live much longer in captivity, and their lifespan varies depending on the type of snail.
WHAT DO THEY EAT? Snails feed on the leaves and tender parts of plants: young snails begin feeding immediately. However, they do seem to usually avoid plants with strong-smelling foliage, or those that have waxy or hairy coverings.