Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Natural Organic Snail and Slug Bait

Our local paper has a weekly column with gardening advice. Recently one of the columns talked about iron phosphate as a natural snail bait. In the past I've used Corry's flake snail bait in very limited areas to keep animals away from the snail bait. I'd never heard of using iron phosphate as organic snail bait but according to the gardening columnist the iron phosphate is also safe for children, pets and other animals. The pest control is often sold as Sluggo and Escar-Go. The idea is to sprinkle the iron phosphate around the areas the snails inhabit. The snails ingest the iron phosphate granuals or tablets and basically get a bellyache and die. I always choose natural pest control whenever possible because it is good for your garden and safe for the birds and animals that visit your yard.

Here is a good article talking about a variety of snail and slug pest control methods. Apparently Iron phosphate bait may help more against snails than slugs. The article above stated that using bait in the same areas helps decrease the snail population because snails tend to return to the same areas for their food source. So check the areas in your yard most heavily populated by snails and repeat placing the snail bait there over time.

My garden is full of lush plants such as passionflower vines, ferns and calla lilies that are perfect hiding places for snails and slugs. The snails chew on the passionflower flowers and leaves but seem to leave the ferns and calla lilies alone so they are good snail proof plants for your garden. Fuchsias seem not to be of interest mostly to snails other than a chew here and there on the flowers. I don't see much damage on the foxgloves from snails either although I can't be as certain of their taste for foxglove leaves and flowers. I do know from experience that snails decimate Hostas readily.

The article listed a number of plants that are not attractive to snails and slugs such as begonias, California poppy, fuchsias, geraniums, impatiens, lantana, nasturtiums, purple robe cup flower, and plants with stiff leaves and highly scented foliage like lavender, rosemary, sage, as well as woody plants and ornamental grasses.

I plan on trying out the iron phosphate in the coming weeks. We have a lot of snails in our yard and I like the idea of a natural method of snail control that is safe for the many cats that wander through our garden. I'm hoping this natural pest control will help bring down the numbers to make for a healthier garden.

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