I have a new nemesis---dastardly denizens that skulk, slither and slide under my bushes, up the branches of my boxwood and procreate prolifically in my new garden.
Here's a clue---crunch, crunch, crunch. That's the sound they make when I walk across my lawn early in the morning.
Snails! They are everywhere---millions of them! In my new garden. I have to say that until we moved into our new home, I haven't seen a snail in over sixteen years. And even then, there were just a few here and there.
That's why, when I pulled some dead leaves aside and found hundreds of the little slimers, I wasn't worried too much. After all, I've used seashells to decorate my potted garden. These just looked like cute little seashells. How bad could it be?
When one started crawling, I took a closer look. They are EVERYWHERE! Thousands and thousands of them. Millions, even. You think I exaggerate? Once, I collected one hundred-fifty two of them before I got tired of counting.
One day the plumber was here, and I tossed one to him and said, "So, what's up with these guys?" He jumped back, took a look and shrugged. "I dunno, I don't have those in my yard. But if I did, I'd move!" he said. Hmmm.
Husband Rudy was in the attic one day doing whatever it is he does up there. He climbed back down and calmly said "There are snails in the attic." I figured they must have crawled up there, looking for a cool place to stay. I didn't think much more about it until we pulled out the old kitchen cabinets. Underneath, there were millions of empty snail shells, all dead. After freaking out, Rudy vacuumed them up and sealed the hole in the wall where they presumably crawled in. Now that's the stuff that nightmares are made of.
So, you can see that I was not exaggerating when I said they are everywhere. Even in the blazing hot sun, in the bare sandy areas, they congregate. They crawl up the side of the house, they crawl up the side of the car, and they pile one on top of another, all the way up and down the stems of my plants.
When I shower at night, I keep my eyes shut, afraid that I'll find them falling out of my hair.
Deciding that the answer had to be out there somewhere, I turned to the Internet and Googled "killing snails." After I got past the references to the hot new band everybody was Tweetering about, I found one website that suggested you "collect them by hand" and put them in the trash. Simple, so I tried that. Next morning, the lid of my garbage can had been ripped off its hinges and the snails had vanished. Doing little slimey "high ones" at each other, no doubt.
For a while, I took pleasure in tossing them into the road, in front of oncoming traffic. Then I felt guilty, thinking they might escape and crawl across the street to my good neighbor's bushes and eat them. That would never do.
A friend suggested an organic control containing iron phosphate. Forget that---my organic control consisted of one claw hammer. I took gleeful pleasure in smashing them with a hammer, on my bad days. Messy, and effective. You gotta watch out, though; those things will spurt right up into your eyes!
On the days when I was feeling kinder to nature, I scooped them up into a bucket and tied them up into a plastic trash bag. But then, something happened one day as I filled my bucket o' snails.
For the first time, one tried to escape, and I got a look at his little face! Up close. Awwww. It was so cute!
I wish I hadn't seen that little face, because now instead of just aquarium decoration, or something to be defeated, it was a living creature! Oh dear--such a quandary! Should I give him a name? Or maybe it's a her? How can you tell? What's a good name for a snail? Earlene? Jill? James? Wait, they're hermaphroditic! Earlene-Bob?
I got a grip on myself, decided that the world wouldn't go to H.E. Double--Toothpicks in a handbasket if I killed a few snails. I was not about to give up. I did more research online, and found out that they actually do have a natural enemy, which I also have in my garden--another snail! A little spiral shaped thingy. I tried to take a photo of one, but he wouldn't sit still long enough. I think he was high-tailing it out of there. The word eccarGOt came to mind---with an emphasis on the GO!
I decided to let nature take its course. I hoped that the good ones would defeat the bad ones. I hoped that I wouldn't have to take drastic measures.
The next morning I found two of them, happily doing the naughty thing. Then I found thousands of others, doing the naughty thing.
And then I remembered my prized rose bush, stripped down to the cellular level.
That was the last draw for me. I'm a simple gal, and like simple solutions. I went to find my trusty claw hammer. Nature can always use a little help, right? Now where's my face shield?
Copyright 2012 Bobbi A. Chuckran
About the Author:
Bobbi A. Chukran is an author and award-winning playwright who lives in a small town near Austin, Texas. She was raised by Southern women of a persnickety nature who were quite proficient in the kitchen. Bobbi carries on with six cats (all of which have a first and middle name, and a
nick-name), one husband and various garden creatures. She chases imaginary characters in her head and can whomp up a mean pot of grackle stew. She is a blogging fool and maintains a website at:
and blogs at: http://bobbichukran.blogspot.com