The Snail and I

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 I wrote last year about the invasion of snails here. When we first came to Provence over three years ago I saw hundreds of little white snails miles from us down in a valley and was glad there weren’t any to be seen where we lived. The next year I saw them closer to our house and, finally, somehow, they arrived to our yard. First there were just a few but this year there are literally thousands. I don’t know how they got up here-maybe passive migration on sheep?-but once they did, they laid millions of little snail eggs at the base of plants and weeds and the darn things hatched all hungry to munch down on everything is sight. I spread some snail poison around some of my bushes and I trimmed down the high grass and weeds around others. I discovered, accidentally while picking off snails from plants, that they have very delicate shells that break easily with a little pop so I was out there stamping on as many as I could all around areas where I didn’t want them to move any further, such as newly planted flowers and darn if it doesn’t seem to work. I actually have a few snail free areas. I remember that last year I asked our neighbors what they were doing about the snails and they pantomined taking a snail off of a plant, throwing it on the ground and stamping on it. I was hoping for an easier solution. Maurice thinks I should just live with them, rather like with our fly issue, but I don’t think I can.

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 Here’s a closeup of some of those snails on poppies in my yard.

 Of course, there are areas that I can’t get to the ground to stamp on snails-I’m sure my neighbors must wonder what I am doing-under large plants or up the sides of hills. I do get out and pick snails off of my lavander plants because the new growth seems very tender and rather delicate and I want lots of blooms this summer. I’ve been anxiously checking my newly planted vegetable garden looking for snails but so far they haven’t moved from the surrounding vegetation into my tomatoes. While we were gone for a few months some men working next door used my empty vegetable patch to burn some weeds and bushes they had pulled up at our neighbor’s. I was worried about how it would change the composition of my soil-all of that ash-and I still have to see how everything does, but I’m thinking that fire may have killed the snail eggs, if there were any there, and there don’t seem to be as many around the general area either. Maybe I can do a ring of fire here and there every year-ha.

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 As you can see from this photo, we had a weather change. It has been very cold the last few days and I’m thinking this couldn’t be good for the snails. Maybe a few will get wiped out. I’ve become rather obsessed by the whole thing. Nature,while wonderful and beautiful, can really throw in a few unpleasant surprises to the gardener.

12 thoughts to “The Snail and I”

  1. I love the snail in the first photo 🙂 Is this one also in your garden?
    Oh, snails can be too bad, can’t they. Happy chasing.

    Trondheim has got all the good weather…..but I have to work 🙁

  2. Sounds like the makings of a French horror flick…I’m picturing all sorts of strange snail scenes.

    Hope you’ve got some sturdy shoes!

    Meilleurs voeux!!

  3. Oh, my! Yuck! Not to dash your hopes, but where we live in California, the snails love the heavy ocean fog. Snails are supposed to love water, and they sure come out in force when the fog rolls in. The thing that worked really well for my lettuce patch was copper tape – they won’t cross it, because it electrocutes them. We nailed it to a board and laid the board flat on the ground around the beds. Not really very cute, but it worked. You can get it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Slug-Snail-Copper-Tape-Barrier/dp/B000QD3BPW

  4. In the States, we used to bait slugs with beer (they love the smell/taste ad then they drown in it). Since yours are French snails, may I suggest a trap with some Côtes du Ventoux? 😉

  5. Omigod! Snail infestation is so annoying. I too have had luck with the beer method. Your snail dance reminds me of when my son was 15 months old and he delighted in stomping snails. I can see him now in his short searsucker overalls and white high-top shoes, raising his chubby little legs high to smash the snails. He looked like a petit sumo wrestler, and delighted in the satisfying crunch. It\’s a slow method of extermination but oh so satisfying!

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