One Thousand Snails Before Breakfast


  I have a friend who calls me from Paris and asks, “What have you been doing?” What can I say? Most every morning, before the heat, I head up the mountain to try and lessen the size of my butt. Then I go into my yard and pull weeds here and there trying to stay ahead of their growth. I water my flowers and my vegetable garden checking on the progress of my tomatoes. I always tell my friend that I’ve been in the north 40 (as in acres) plowing the field with old Bessie, my mule. But my obsession with the snails continues unabated. If you can believe it, there are even more than the last time I wrote about them.

 The other day as I was picking them off of my plants I started counting how many I was gathering. There is no way I can get to all of the things growing in my yard. The number of weeds and clover along growing on the outskirts is daunting and I try not to look at or think about the thousands of snails munching away out there. I pick snails off of flowers I have planted, off of the lavander and rosemary and santalina that grow down the hill from our house holding the soil in place. I am surprised to find snails on lavander or rosemary since they both are medicinal and rather strong in taste but there they are-not turned off by the taste of anything being equal opportunity munchers. When we have a rain, you suddenly don’t see any snails on the plants. The rain washes them away and they lie stunned on the ground. Maybe they can’t stick to things well if they are wet rather like Scotch Tape or Band-Aids. But as soon as it dries out, there they are and there is a new crop every single morning.


 So, as I was saying, I started counting one day. I actually got up to 1000. Can you believe that? I collected them in batches of 50 or 100 and then put them on the ground and smash their little white shells to smithereens. I’ve read that you can put dishes into the ground and fill them with beer. Snails like yeast and will mosey into the beer and drown. I would need 1000 dishes and gallons of beer to even make a dent in this invasion. So I try to keep them off plants I cherish. For a while I would just throw them all into a field but I’ve decided that each one will lay thousands of eggs and they will all be back in even larger numbers next year. As with flies Maurice says, “You should just live with nature.” Right. Did farmers just live with nature when locusts came and destroyed crops? No, they found something to get rid of them. Well, anyway, that what I do every day. Not too exciting. I have to take breaks and visit other villages and cities but I know, the whole time that I am gone, the snails are on the move. I envision hundreds of thousands of little snail ghosts coming to haunt me one day. I have no mercy, even so.

10 thoughts to “One Thousand Snails Before Breakfast”

  1. Sluggo is something that i have found that really works and is safe to use since it comes from the earth. It contains iron phosphate. the iron biodegrades into the earth and the snails crawl away. is there any thing that feeds on snails? why are there so many?

  2. The image you posted with this entry is so illustrative of how you must be feeling.

    I’ve heard of the beer solution but it sounds like you might need to brew your own quantity to make any kind of a change.

    Tomatoes, huh? How are they doing? Post a picture!!!! Show me yours, I’ll show you mine !!

  3. Wow! What a battle. I agree; I’d have to win! I’ve read a warning though that squashing snails does nothing to kill the eggs — snails are hermaphroditic, that is, no male or female in the species and asexual reproduction: each snail can do it all by themselves. When they are “squashed” the eggs live on and hatch anyway. Suggestions that I’ve had in the past are to drown the ones you hand pick in buckets of hot suds water. Also, NOT to use salt because it ruins the soil, but to remove any hiding place for them: bricks, boards, heaps of clippings, mulch piles or dense vegetation around your garden — since they love to hide in shady places and where they aren’t dried by the sun. You beat them by removing all their cover.

    The traps with beer work because snails love yeast. You can get the same effect loads cheaper [and safer than with chemicals] by mixing a proportion of 2 cups water to 2 teaspoon sugar to 1/2 teaspoon yeast. If you fill plastic tubs or tin pans with this mixture and dig then in just below ground level, this invites the snails to fall in and drown. You just have to make enough liquid to fill the tubs or pans deep enough that the slimey little devils are trapped. OOOOooooh!
    By the way, parts of California are overrun with brown snails imported from France as escargot material!

  4. I can\’t imagine 1000 snails! my sympathies to you as it would pretty much creep me out to have to mess with that many…Like you, I\’d always heard about the beer cure, but you\’re right it\’d take waaay too much for what you\’re fighting. Better to kick back and drink the beer yourself. Just to fortify yourself for the next days snail attack, of course.

  5. Hummmm! Well, you could revise your quiche recipe, throw in a few snails, and get a booth at the farmers market.

  6. I guess we all have our dratted pests. Last year, mine were mushrooms. The year before that was woodpeckers. I guess I’m lucky this year… an annoying dove is the only thing driving me crazy.

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