Wednesday, May 15, 2013

BAD snail!

HA! Two years ago, I thought this was "Just a snail." Well, it's a snail, all right. But the non-native milk snail (Otala lactea), which is a BAD BAD BAD snail. (Unless, as I joked two years ago, you happen to love escargot.) This spring, I've found more milk snails in our Wildscape than ever before. Like coreopsis leaf beetles and English house sparrows, I HATE THIS SNAIL SPECIES. It doesn't belong here, and it eats our plants.

I'll never forget a photo posted by a friend of mine on her Facebook page. A plant in her yard was COVERED with these snails. That was a red flag to me. The picture told me that this species CAN get out of hand. So ever since then, I've killed them (I place a piece of ball moss on top of the thing, then STOMP), or I get my sweet Hit Man (James) to do the execution. I still don't like to kill stuff.

So how'd they get here? Snail expert/Mollusk Man Max Anton wrote me in 2011 that: "All Helicidae are exotic, having been imported from Europe and Asia Minor. The milk snail is formerly known as the Spanish Edible Snail, so it is probably more closely associated with the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa. I'm not sure how Otala lactea found its way specifically to the Hill Country, but most likely, it migrated there after being introduced in other parts of the country for the escargot trade. Snails have a knack for hitching rides in potted plants, shipping crates, and other transported goods.

Around here, I've found them on the outside of our house. In the grass. On the sides of potted plants. Earlier this week, I spotted a small one at the Blanco Good Samaritan Center. Squish!  So look around your yard, especially after a rain. I bet you have some, too. But I sure hope not!

Milk snail on spiderwort
I found two snails on the same spiderwort this morning. I summoned my favorite Hit Man, and he took care of the varmints for me.


Rock rose said...

So far I don't have any of those two toned ones and I don't want them I had enough with the decollate snail which I have a semi-handle on. I did go out this morning in the mist and found 4 but I don't need ball moss. I can just squish them with my foot. The smaller ones I crush in my fingers. For a high calcium area they have thin shells. They like grapefruit for breakfast!

Annie said...

They are really really bad guys! I have no problem with the stomp, stomp method of removing them from my place. And yes indeed, right after rain is a good time for snail hunting.

Anonymous said...

I'm in Wimberley, Tx and regular snails have been a huge problem. I found a snail that resembles those with the round shell (only one so far) what is the diameter of the round shell?

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Approximately one inch or so in diameter.

Marilyn Kircus said...

They look like the same ones we have in Galveston. My morning job was to go out and look for them and squash them.

Unknown said...

i see one mama one on my patio glass door, and a ton of the babies on one of the potted plants as well as the metal bird bath. if i just collect them in a ziplock and throw them int he trash would that work?

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Unknown, my husband pours some salt on them. It’s a good idea to kill them now before they reproduce even more!

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