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Slugs and snails belong to a larger group (or Phylum) known as the Mollusca. Molluscs come in many different forms but are predominantly categorised as soft-bodied animals without body segmentation that often have an external shell made of calcareous material.
Snails and slugs are known as gastropods, which mean â€˜stomach footâ€™. This describes the way in which the body and internal organs of slugs and snails has been twisted back so that the stomach lies above the large fleshy foot of these animals. The head is at one end of this foot the snail or slug moves by gliding along a surface of mucus or slime that is produced from glands on the foot. All gastropods have a well-developed head with eyes and 1-2 pairs of tentacles
Gastropods are found in a variety of habitats across Australia but favour moist environments. Most native species can be found hiding under logs and rocks, in leaf litter or under the bark of trees. During humid weather or times of rainfall they can be seen foraging for food or looking for mates.
Slugs are particularly susceptible to drying out and some snails may wait out a dry period by sealing themselves to a hard surface with dried mucus and staying inactive, this is sometimes known as aestivation. In some agricultural areas of South Australia aestivation by introduced snail species causes problems as huge numbers congregate in crops to aestivate over the hotter months contaminating the harvest.
Life Cycle: Gastropods lay eggs. The eggs of some species contain a large yolk. Development of the eggs may be within the body, or the eggs may be expelled to develop externally. Eggs develop into larvae. Those species that will develop a shell start it while larvae. As the animal develops, it adds another curl of shell, ending in an opening from which the head and foot of the animal emerge.
Gastropods are sexual, and some forms are hermaphroditic, meaning that a single individual can produce both egg and sperm. These individuals will exchange sperm with another individual rather than fertilizing themselves.
Damage : Snails and slugs feed on a variety of living plants and on decaying plant matter. They chew irregular holes with smooth edges in leaves and flowers and can clip succulent plant parts. They also can chew fruit and young plant bark.
Because they prefer succulent foliage or flowers, they primarily are pests of seedlings and herbaceous plants, but they also are serious pests of ripening fruits that are close to the ground such as strawberries, artichokes, and tomatoes. They also will feed on foliage and fruit of some trees; citrus are especially susceptible to damage. Look for the silvery mucous trails to confirm slugs or snails caused the damage and not earwigs, caterpillars, or other chewing insects.
Management : A good snail and slug management program relies on a combination of methods. The first step is to eliminate, as much as possible, all places where they can hide during the day. Boards, stones, debris, weedy areas around tree trunks, leafy branches growing close to the ground, and dense ground covers such as ivy are ideal sheltering spots. It wonâ€™t be possible to eliminate some shelters such as low ledges on fences, the undersides of wooden decks, and water meter boxes, so make a regular practice of trapping and removing snails and slugs from these areas.
Locate vegetable gardens or susceptible plants as far away from snail and slug hiding places as possible. Reducing hiding places allows fewer snails and slugs to survive. The survivors congregate in the remaining shelters, where you can more easily locate and remove them
Switching from sprinkler irrigation to drip irrigation will reduce humidity and moist surfaces, making the habitat less favorable for these pests. Choose snail-proof plants, such as those listed below, for areas where snails and slugs are dense. Copper barriers can be useful for protecting especially susceptible plants.
Though baits can be part of a management program, it is better to use them in conjunction with other habitat modification, especially in gardens that contain plenty of shelter, food, and moisturePlant selection can greatly affect how difficult your battle with snails and slugs will be. Because snails and slugs favor seedlings and plants with succulent foliage, you will need to vigilantly protect these.
Some plants these pests will seriously damage include basil, beans, cabbage, dahlia, delphinium, hosta, lettuce, marigolds, strawberries, and many other vegetable plants. On the other hand, many plants resist snail and slug damage including begonias, California poppy, fuchias, geraniums, impatiens, lantana, nasturtiums, and purple robe cup flower as well as many plants with stiff leaves and highly scented foliage such as lavender, rosemary, and sage. Most ornamental, woody plants, and ornamental grasses also arenâ€™t seriously affected. If you design your landscape using snail and slug resistant plants, you are likely to have very limited damage.
If you ever have any bug related issues in New York City, feel free to call us either at Beyond Pest Control. Once again, and I canâ€™t stress this enough we are on call twenty four hours a day seven days a week to kill those bugs, we arenâ€™t kidding whether you call us at 9 am or midnight we will be available to take your call and either get rid of the bug infestation, or answer any questions you may have concerning the bug issue. I can honestly guarantee that there will be someone to answer that call. We make it our business to make you bug free!
You can also from time to time find helpful hints at http://nypestpro.blogspot.com.
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