Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wildlife... and Death

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about some birds in our backyard that seemed to take pleasure in teasing our younger Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Mystie. They seemed to have calmed down a bit while I was away at Malice Domestic.

This afternoon, after several hours of rainfall had stopped long enough to allow our backyard to dry out a little, I let Mystie and Lexie into the yard... and they immediately found the dead body of a bird. I can’t say for sure that it was one of Mystie’s tormenters, but it seemed the same size and shape, with similar feathers.

We’ve had other birds die recently when our rainstorms were harder. I’m not sure why. Maybe the rain changes the reflections in our windows and causes the birds to fly into them. But despite this bird’s possible shenanigans, I felt awful about its having died.

In the meantime, some dear friends have joined my husband in planting a wonderful vegetable garden in our yard, too. I’m not much of a gardener, but I’m delighted and follow their occasional instructions.

Lately, those instructions have involved removing snails from the Brussels sprouts and strawberries.

Okay, I want the garden to grow. I don’t want other creatures besides us to eat all the wonderful produce. But I actually enjoy watching snails crawl across the nearby pavement.

Plus, I hate to kill anything, even stuff I revile, like insects.

So, although I remove the snails that I see, wearing handy gloves left here by my friends, I don’t squash or otherwise kill them. I take them to the farthest end of the yard and plunk them down by plants that don’t mean as much.

But that doesn’t seem to be stopping them. We’re apparently running out of options to get them gone with repellants or even stuff that kills only the snails if they eat it, but not dogs or people. That kind of stuff washes away in rain or while the veggies are being watered. Next step? Possibly beer, to see if they’ll just jump in and drown.

Which means I may not get to see them crawl across the sidewalk any longer, unless they’re staggering toward the beer.

If you have any suggestions for safe snail removal, please let me know!


Julie said...

I'm sorry, but I have no problem killing snails. We had such a bad infestation of them in Orange County some time ago, that leaving the house after dark was like walking on walnuts with every step. I put Snarol (the stuff you find all over SoCal when it's snail season) in the far reaches of the yard to lure them there to die. It kept them away from everything but strawberries, which are apparently the snail answer to caviar and chocolate.
One or two snails, I wouldn't mind. So thick on the ground you can't avoid stepping on them is just too much. Since it was clear the snail population of SoCal was not in any way endangered, the snails were going to go. They still gross me out. I may have PTSD about those things.

Linda O. Johnston said...

I agree that so many snails are awful, Julie. Is Snarol safe for dogs?

Julie said...

Well, I just looked it up, and yes, it can be poisonous for dogs. I'd especially worry about your cavaliers, since they're small. You may be stuck with the beer treatment. Sorry!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks for checking, Julie. If the beer doesn't work, maybe we can drink the leftovers ourselves!

Janie Emaus said...

I'm with you, Linda. I like watching snails crawl along and don't like hurting them.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Thanks, Janie. I just wish I could direct them somewhere other than the garden!

Greys Anatomy Episode Guide said...

I have the same problem with snails but I don't have the guts to kill so I tried to pick them and put them on the river or swamp nearby they don't die on water but the day after they nested and have a lot of eggs, which I guess will be the next generation visitors to my garden..

Linda O. Johnston said...

I toss snails, but into areas soft enough that they probably survive, Greys Anatomy Episode Guide. I'm hoping they don't lay eggs there... but I wouldn't be surprised.

Betty Hechtman said...

We don't seem to have any snails where we are now, but our old house a few blocks away had lots of them. I remember trying beer, but I don't remember if it worked.

Nice that your husband gardens. I have two tomato plants in so far, and a strawberry plant from last year. Mostly, I've been adding flowers.

Anonymous said...

Has this method been experimented with?

For cold-frames or raised beds, it is possible to attach copper flashing to the frames. Slugs do not like to cross copper because it causes them to experience a minute electrical discharge (or such is the prevailing theory). It works only if the copper strip is wide enough they can't raise their bodies over it. The majority of copper stripping sold in garden shops for this purpose is not wide enough to create an effective barrier, which would need to be six inches wide, or the largest most destructive slugs will hump right over it without touching the copper.

Copper-barriering an entire garden is not going to be practical, but it is an excellent method for protecting very sensitive seedling beds or small containers. Copper screen or copper flashing can surround a raised bed, or for small planters, copper foil (such as Snail-Barr) can be used to wrap the entire container. Shrubs can have a detached band of copper around the lower trunk.

Copper needs to be cleaned periodically with vinegar or will tarnish & no longer have the desired effect. Personally I cannot imagine going about making rings of copper for all the shrubs or encircling gardens with copper mesh, risking my hands or the feet of animals that can be cut on the edges of copper, then remembering to periodically polish the copper scattered about the garden. But at least this is a system that can work, unlike so many folklorish methods & worthless toxins that desperate gardeners try.

Linda O. Johnston said...

It's amazing to watch all the veggies grow in our garden, Betty.

Anonymous, the copper idea sounds intriguing but may be a bit unwieldy with all the plants we have--plus, my dogs do like to walk around the plants. A neighbor suggested putting grapefruit rinds upside down around the area. Supposedly, the snails go under them and don't know how to get out. That one I'll try.