Today, let's talk about my newest nemesis, the 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 the bad:
Snails! I have to say that I haven't seen a snail in my garden since we moved away from the lushness of northwest Austin over 16 years ago. For some reason, they don't like it in the Hill Country. That's why, when I pulled some dead leaves aside and found these, I wasn't worried too much. After all, I've used seashells to decorate my potted garden. When one started crawling, I took a closer look. They are EVERYWHERE! Thousands and thousands of them.
You think I jest? Clap your peepers on this:
This was my "harvest" after just a few minutes. One day, I collected 152 of them before getting tired of counting. Research online says to "collect them by hand" and a friend suggested an organic control containing iron phosphate. I have to try that, because they are getting out of hand.
One day the plumber was here, and I tossed one to him and said, "So, what's up with these guys?" He took a look and shrugged. "I dunno, I don't have those in my yard." Lot of help HE was!
Then, Rudy was in the attic one day doing whatever it is he does up there. He climbed back down and 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 tiny snail shells, all dead. After freaking out, Rudy vacuumed them up and sealed the hole in the wall where they presumably crawled in.
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:
For a while, I took pleasure in tossing them into the road. Then I felt guilty, thinking they might crawl across the street to my good neighbor's bushes and eat them. That would never do. So then I started collecting them, and disposing of them in the trash can. I even took gleeful pleasure in smashing a few with a hammer, on my bad days. But then, something happened today 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...
Hmmm...I wish I hadn't seen that, because now instead of just aquarium decoration, it's a living creature! Oh dear. Shall I give him a name? Or maybe it's a her?
I did more research online, and found out that they actually do have a natural enemy, which I also have in my garden. See the little spiral shaped thingy? Bad photo, I know, but he wouldn't sit still long enough for me to take a good picture.
I decided to let nature take its course. I hoped that the good ones would defeat the bad ones.
But then, I found these two, doing their naughty bit:
Then I remembered this:
That was the last draw for me. I went to find my hammer. Nature can always use a little help, right?