Act now to control snails

Author: Rebecca Barr | Date: 05 Mar 2016

   Man showing damage where snails have attacked a crop  

Snails damaging a crop at Warooka on the Yorke Peninsula

Snail monitoring cameras have identified snails moving and feeding earlier than usual in the year, giving growers an opportunity to maintain control of snail numbers.

SARDI Entomology grains researcher Michael Nash says that while a dry spring generally results in a decrease in snail numbers, growers should not become complacent.

“We have shown the most important climatic predictor of snail damage in crops is autumn rainfall and the Bureau of Meteorology is currently predicting above-average rainfall for many areas, so there is certainly a risk of damage this season, despite the dry spring,” he said.

Baiting should occur before egg laying. This would usually indicate March, but with the earlier movement of snails observed, Dr Nash recommends growers begin baiting in February if they had good summer rain.

“Our cameras have taught us that even dew will see movement of snails and they are certainly feeding under all of our cameras already this season after six millimetres of rain,” he said.

Growers who are grazing sheep need to keep withholding periods (WHP) in mind as the WHP of eight weeks on most baits means that sheep will need to be taken off stubbles early, but Dr Nash says that where snails are a frequent problem, early intervention is the best strategy.

“Growers should think of a snail problem as similar to a weed problem; if you keep on top of it you will be okay but doing nothing would be foolish and could lead to out of control populations down the track,” he said.

More information

Michael Nash,
08 8303 9537,

Useful resources

GRDC Project Code DAS00134

Region South