Snails and slugs are great enemies of the garden: with a humid climate and not too sunny, they proliferate, which can cause a lot of damage to crops. The worst damage is caused by leafy vegetables, especially lettuces, and young plants, which can be damaged irreversibly by defoliation.
The methods of combating these snails are different, out of laziness, unfortunately, very often the easiest way is chosen, spreading the chemical that kills snails in the garden. Granulated bait is a method that works well to kill slugs, but you have to be careful because it has a series of contraindications in terms of contamination and is very dangerous for pets.
Before using this pesticide, it is advisable to find out about its consequences on the orchard and its waiting times, it is also useful to inform friends and acquaintances that they can use it without conscience. There are also natural alternatives to discover, including an organic snail killer.
blue metaldehyde slugicidal granules
The lean season
Alternatives to metaldehyde
The biological slugicide
Blue Metaldehyde Granules Slug Granules
The most common snails on the market are products made with metaldehyde, a toxic chemical compound presented in the form of blue or aqua green pellets. In addition to metaldehyde, the phytopharmaceutical contains a set of flours intended to attract snails, generally it is the proteins that are swallowed by the shellfish. The principle is that of the bait: it suffices to distribute the granules here and there in the garden so that the gastropods go to eat it and die. The formula has been studied so that the snail killer is resistant to rain and has a good duration, this guarantees several days of protection for the garden but also extends the time that the poison remains in our soil. Obviously, in organic farming, this type of pesticide is not allowed and should generally be avoided for common sense reasons.
One important thing to know is that metaldehyde is a harmful poison especially for pets like dogs and cats, using it in the garden puts them in great danger.
Toxicity is not limited to ingestion, but also occurs through skin contact, although to a lesser extent. For this reason, it must be handled with gloves and it is not necessary to put your hands on the ground where the granulated bait has been spread.
The lean season
The shortage period is indicated on the packaging of each anti-slug tablet: these are the days that must be allowed to elapse between the use of the product and the consumption of vegetables. Often the time indicated is 20 days, an absurd period for fast crops such as salads, which are almost coming to harvest.
Unfortunately, garden centers still too often recommend metaldehyde-based products unreservedly, ignoring the consequences that can result from this. Most people who use pellet bait don’t care about the lean season and spread the bait out of ignorance even just before harvest.
Whoever wants to make an organic garden must renounce metaldehyde, without compromise. If someone is not convinced to do so, there is a useful precaution to limit the damage of the poison: the Lima Trap dispenser. This simple system avoids direct contact between the poisonous granules and the ground, the upper cover prevents the rain from spreading the product.
Lima Trap has the great advantage of limiting the waste of bait, for this it can also be used with the biological snail killer (recommended option).
Metaldehyde poisoning is a common cause of death in pets, especially small and medium-sized dogs, which can be intrigued by blue pellets and ingesting small amounts can be fatal. Also the local fauna, if present in the area, is in danger of extinction because of this pesticide.
Symptoms of poisoning occur a few hours after ingestion and consist of convulsions, tachycardia, tremors, diarrhea… There is no antidote that can save the animal, it must be taken urgently to The veterinarian.
alternative to metaldehyde
Giving up metaldehyde does not mean that the garden is eaten by snails, there are also natural methods that allow you to protect crops, we talk in detail in the article about how to defend the garden from slugs.
On a small scale, the defense can be based on barriers made up of powdery substances and also on the manual collection of snails, a system that is too often underestimated. Another good method is beer traps, which are simple and effective.
There is also a biological snail killer, which can replace the conventional one with equal effectiveness.
The biological snail killer
For those who are short on time and do not want to try natural defenses that require perseverance and time, there is also a biological snail killer on the market.
They are colored granules similar to those of the toxic pesticide both in appearance and effectiveness.
This biotechnology-approved bait is based on ferric phosphate, a substance that affects the nutritional system of snails. In this way, it can selectively and ecologically affect gastropods. Once ferric phosphate breaks down in the environment, it leaves behind useful micronutrients for plants, thereby enriching the soil.
The disadvantage of this product can be in the cost, in this sense the already mentioned Lima Trap dispenser is useful, which prolongs its life and therefore allows good savings.