Diligence key in the fight with snails - Albuquerque Journal

Diligence key in the fight with snails

Q: I have a very beautiful flower bed in my yard, plant annuals and also have lovely dahlias. My question is how to control snails? They have increased beyond belief and eat and destroy almost everything. I have tried the “beer method” and “newspaper method” to no avail. Shall I just buy and use a snail bait chemical product to destroy the snails? If so, how often do I use it and how soon shall I start? – G.G, N.M.

A: To have an overabundance of snails in your garden would certainly be yucky. I’m saddened that the “beer method” of trapping hasn’t worked for you, and I am curious if maybe you hadn’t been as vigilant as necessary with keeping the trap emptied, cleaned and refilled with fresh beer on a daily basis. That is the key to successful beer trapping – complete vigilance.

Doing research, the next effective method would be applying diatomaceous earth liberally throughout your garden bed. It is touted as a superb pesticide for hunting snails and slugs. Since the diatomaceous earth doesn’t poison pests, it is a bit safer to use and doesn’t harm the earth. However it can cause irritations to mucous membranes (your nose) if inhaled, so apply thoughtfully.

The diatomaceous earth is made of finely-ground fossilized silica shells of algae called diatoms. These microscopic shells are covered with sharp needles so that when a snail crawls through the dust, their outer surface is scratched so their bodily fluids leak out, leading to their death. You will want to dust the soil surface where you see snails congregating and replenish it often to get control of your pests.

The diatomaceous earth stays useful even when wet, but having a fresh, dry dusting applied, especially in the evening hours, does help eliminate these critters.

Another key to eradication is tidying up. Don’t allow a mass of dead to just hang around. Rake or pick them up and dispose of them.

I have also read that laying out slices of raw potatoes or cabbage leaves attracts the snails. It’s recommended to collect and dispose of the potato slices or cabbage leaves – hopefully wearing a new collection of snails – daily.

As to purchasing a commercial snail bait, perhaps you need to in order to get the population under control. As to how often to use, you will want to read the pesticide label completely in order to gain that information.

When should you start your snail hunt? Well, if you are seeing either the snails themselves or the mucous trails they leave, then it’s time to start your hunt. I would continue with all of the methods you have employed, remembering to be fastidious with the trap upkeep, add some diatomaceous earth to your arsenal and hopefully gain the upper hand over your snail population.

Q: I have 100 green ash trees which have died this last year, they are 12 years old. What has happened? – C.B., N.M.

A: Wow, that’s a lot of trees. But you didn’t offered any information about the trees, so I’m not equipped to offer much about them.

It could be a whole host of troubles starting with ash borer beetles or perhaps they were inadvertently exposed to an herbicide. Did the way the trees were maintained change drastically? So many questions with no information to go on.

What I will suggest is that you contact your county agricultural agent to see if the agent will come to inspect the stand and assist you in figuring out what happened to your ash trees.

I know it’s heart-wrenching to see so much devastation, but I don’t have enough information to even begin to suggest what happened to your ash trees. I hope you will search out some better answers.

Happy Diggin’ In!

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to features@abqjournal.com.


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