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Snails by Micropest Pest Control

Snails are gastropods, which constitute about 70% of all mollusc species. Australia has more than 65 species of introduced land and freshwater snails and slugs, but only a few are regarded as pests. Unlike with many introduced species, there is no evidence to suggest that introduced snails are affecting the survival of native snail species. They tend to only take over a habitat after human destruction of the native snail habitat. These introduced species have often entered Australia on plants, in pallets, packing cases, and shipping containers.

Snails and Snail control

The common garden snail was introduced to Australia from Europe, and is found natively from North Africa and through western Europe to Britain. In Australia, they are usually only common near urban areas. This species of snail has been in Australia for more than 120 years, and has also been introduced to California, New Zealand, southern Africa, and southern South America. It doesn't thrive in desert conditions, but does thrive in Sydney's temperate climate, where its breeding cycle extends throughout most of the year. There is little to keep populations in check in Australia, unlike in its native Europe, where its breeding ability is shortened by cold winters, and it's a predator by several species of birds. The introduced species of snails can be distinguished from natives by their having two pairs of tentacles, where natives have only a single pair. They do cause damage to many plants though, damaging or contaminating many food crops, and damaging ornamental gardens.

Adult garden snails typically have hard shells 25-40 mm in diameter, with four or five whorls, with the shells brown or chestnut in colour, with yellow stripes, flecks or streaks. The soft, slimy body is retracted into the shell for protection when threatened or when the snail is inactive. The opening in the shell will be sealed up with a thin membrane in dry or cold conditions, to prevent the snailís body drying out. They can survive temperatures down to minus five degrees by altering the properties of their blood to avoid ice formation. An adult can move at a top speed of about 1.3 centimetres per second, or about forty seven metres per hour.

Garden snails are hermaphrodites, but usually reproduce sexually. Approximately eighty spherical pearly-white eggs are laid into crevices in the topsoil, and there can be up to six batches of eggs laid each year. Young snails take one to two years to reach sexual maturity. There are a variety of control measures that can be used to keep them from damaging plants. As well as commercial pesticides, concentrated garlic or wormwood solutions can be sprayed. Snails are repelled by the metal copper, and a copper band around a tree trunk will deny snails access to the rest of the tree.

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