Pests: Garden Snails and Slugs

Garden snail Helix aspertaThe garden snail (Helix asperta), as well as slugs, can even affect balcony container plants. Snails and slugs can climb from a garden below up the wall and onto your balcony. Once slugs and snails get into your garden, deal with them immediately.


If you allow these mollusks to stay in the garden, they will eat and destroy your container plants, and they will mate prolifically – Helix asperta can lay almost 500 eggs in one year, and they can reproduce asexually (meaning only one snail is needed to produce more). It is best to deal with snails and slugs immediately so they don’t to any more damage to your balcony garden than they’ve already done.

The common garden snail is a notorious plant-eater that will feed on fruit plants (it is a pest in California citrus groves), vegetables and flowers. Slugs can kill large plants, and they will eat your fruits and vegetables before you are ready to harvest them. They will mostly eat decaying plant material, but they will eat soft plant tissue and chew large holes into foliage, fruit, stems, etc., and they especially love seedlings and new growth. Snails and slugs do more damage and are more numerous in wet conditions (another reason you should not overwater your plants). It goes without saying that the balcony container gardener must inspect plants regularly for these garden pests and know how to get rid of them once they appear.

You may not want to deal with a snail found in one of your plant containers, and you may be tempted to just toss it over the side of your balcony. If you find a snail, you should kill it, even if you are squeamish about killing them. If you throw it over the side of your balcony, it will either climb back up to your balcony garden or reproduce, thus allowing hundreds more snails the chance to climb up to your container plants. The best way to deal with snails and slugs is to search for them when doing routine maintenance. Each snail or slug found should be killed immediately.

Read “Eight Methods for Garden Snail and Slug Control” to learn eight methods to help you trap and kill snails and slugs. Rid your garden of these pests for good!

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