Identifying and Managing Garden Snails and Slugs

Cool, wet weather, like what we experience in January, creates ideal conditions for garden snails and slugs to thrive. These pests are known for damaging a variety of plants by feeding on their leaves, as well as ripening fruits and vegetables. Common victims include lettuce, basil, broccoli, and strawberries. It’s important to note that an abundance of slugs one year does not necessarily predict their presence the next. Their numbers can fluctuate based on moisture levels and your use of preventative measures.

Distinguishing Between Snails and Slugs

If you’re finding mollusks in your garden, you’re likely dealing with the common garden snail or its shell-less cousin, the slug:

  • Common Garden Snail: Easily recognized by its brown coiled shell and gray body, typically measuring 1 to 1.5 inches long.
  • Slug: These are essentially snails without shells, usually brownish or grayish, with lengths ranging from 1/8 inch to 2 inches. Larger varieties like the banana slug can grow 4 to 6 inches long.

Both snails and slugs can be various shades of gray, tan, green, or black, and may feature darker spots or patterns. They leave a distinctive slime trail, a mucus secretion, as they move. Their eggs are clear and oval or round, found in jelly-like masses.

How to Spot Snails and Slugs in Your Garden

To locate these pests, inspect your garden after dark, before dawn, or on cloudy days. Key hiding spots include under plants, beneath boards and rocks, and along low-growing, shady foliage. You can also find their eggs, about the size of a BB, under dirt clods or on the undersides of large leaves, particularly near the crown of plants. Egg laying is most common in warm months, especially in the fall.

Identifying Damage Caused by Snails and Slugs

Look for irregularly shaped, chewed-out spots on plant leaves. Slugs have a preference for lush or succulent plants such as basil, beans, cabbage, citrus trees, dahlias, hostas, lettuce, and strawberries. A silvery trail on leaves and soil is a clear indicator of slug or snail activity.

How Can Bayscape Landscape Management Help?

Bayscape Landscape Management together with our wholly owned subsidiary Arbortek Tree Services is a local, family-owned and operated landscape management company with a twenty-five year heritage of reliability and performance. From small beginnings, our company has grown to become one of the leaders in the landscaping industry, entrusted with maintaining the Bay Area’s most beautiful commercial and residential landscapes. Our single objective is to transform your exterior into a picture-perfect space, as breathtaking as it is functional. 

You may have been recommended to us by one of our many satisfied customers, or you may have searched online for landscaping services near me. However you found us, we’re happy to welcome you. Call us at (408) 288-2940 or contact us online.