Small, slimy, and shelled, snails play a unique role in our world’s ecosystem. So, why do so many gardeners oppose having snails in their garden? Furthermore, what are snails, what are they good for, and are snails insects?
We’re about to find out!
Let’s Talk About Snails!
Snails are often viewed as darling garden companions, though they are actually quite destructive.
Are snails insects?
Though snails and slugs are often lumped into a category with insects, they are actually more closely related to octopuses than they are to bugs. In fact, snails belong to the class Gastropoda in the phylum Mollusca.
They are often called shelled gastropods, while gastropods that do not contain a shell are simply known as slugs.
Most slugs and snails live in water, though there are some species of land-dwelling snails. These snails are the snails you likely find in your garden or yard, often moving slowly about after a rainfall or in early dusk or dawn.
Snails range in length from just a few centimeters to 12 inches, though the most common garden snail is just about an inch or so in length.
Though interesting and oftentimes considered cute garden companions, snails can actually be detrimental to garden plants.
Furthermore, they are prolific reproducers with a unique life cycle.
Now that we know the answer to are snails insects is no, we should talk about the lifecycle of snails and what you should watch out for.
Are Snails Insects? What You Should Know About The Lifecycle of Snails
Are snails insects? The answer may be no, but snails can reproduce just as rapidly as their insect counterparts.
Snails are hermaphrodites, which means they have both male and female parts. With that being said, snails cannot fertilize themselves, and they reproduce by mating with other snails. Upon mating, both sets of snails can produce eggs.
About three to six days after mating, both snails will lay around 80 eggs in a small hole dug into the soil. It can take roughly two weeks for snail eggs to hatch, and when baby snails hatch they emerge with their shells already intact.
Land snails can have a relatively long lifespan which ranges from between two to five years. It can take a snail between six weeks and five years to reach maturity, though sexual maturity for a snail is generally around six weeks.
Upon reaching sexual maturity, a snail can mate and reproduce all over again.
The snails that are native to North America are not seen as such a nuisance, though most garden snails today are considered invasive and damaging to plants and vegetation.
If you do notice a snail in our garden, experts recommend you take steps to get rid of it as quickly as possible to protect your plants.
Are Snails Insects? If Not, Then What Attracts Snails To The Garden?
Snails are excellent climbers and can get to all kinds of vegetation.
Are snails insects? No, but they can still be attracted to the same things that insects are attracted to.
Both snails and slugs are on a constant hunt for food. While they are primarily herbivores, they have a diverse diet and can often act as scavengers, eating meats and other decaying organic matter if it is available to them.
Though the answer to are snails insects is a resounding no, snails are still an awful lot like insects when it comes to the factors that will attract them to your yard or garden. These factors include:
Though they move quite slowly, snails are always hungry. They are constantly on the hunt for nutrient-rich foods to help keep them on the move. Snails are notoriously good climbers, and will often seek out specific plants that are rich in water and nutrients.
Some snail favorites include green, leafy plants like spinach, basil, beans, cabbage, marigolds, strawberries, lettuce, delphinium, and dahlia. This means that your ornamental gardens or vegetable gardens could be most at risk when it comes to dealing with snails.
Snails are slow-moving animals and, while they do carry their homes on their backs like turtles, they don’t generally use their shells as their permanent dwelling. This is because snails are especially sensitive to sunlight, and they can’t survive if their bodies become too dry.
If left exposed, snails will quickly dry up. For this reason, they are generally seen out and about at night searching for food. However, you might also see snails out after a rain or early in the morning when the garden or grass is covered in dew.
Snails prefer to hide in leafy gardens, in healthy shrubs or bushes, or beneath logs, stones, garden equipment, porches, or other moisture-rich areas around your home.
Although the answer to are snails insects is no, snails still need plenty of water in order to survive, just like their insect counterparts. Both snails and slugs have slimy bodies that need to stay wet and slimy in order for them to not only move from place to place but also to protect themselves from the elements.
In order to produce this slime, snails need plenty of water. They consume water in a multitude of ways. They can drink water through their mouths while also consuming water through their skin.
Snails are attracted to yards with water sources like ponds, birdbaths, streams, or fountains. You might also find snails crawling around your garden if it’s overly watered.
The good news is that snails are not dangerous to people or pets. Furthermore, snails play an important role in our ecosystem.
They are beneficial animals while also serving as a food source for a wide variety of wildlife. Still, they are prolific reproducers and many snails in North America are considered invasive and destructive.
For this reason, it’s important to know the signs of snails and to have a good idea of how to get rid of them.
Are Snails Insects – Signs You Have Snails In Your Garden
Snails are highly attracted to leafy greens and water.
We’ve looked into are snails insects and we’ve learned that they are actually animals. However, snails still behave quite like insects when it comes to the damage they cause to our garden plants and flowers.
Snails are especially damaging to leafy plants like lettuces, spinach, flowers, and fruits. And since the answer to are snails insects is no, treating a snail infestation might require some unique methods and remedies.
In order to treat snails properly in your garden or yard, it’s important to diagnose snails.
Known as snail slime or snail mucin, snail mucus trails are often telltale signs that you have snails or slugs in your garden. Snails produce slime through glands located on their bodies. This slime helps protect snails from the elements from sharp or jagged objects on the ground to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Snails also rely on their slime to keep them mobile and to climb.
Holes In Leafy Plants
Many people might ask “are snails insects” because of their behavior and diet. In fact, the damage to vegetation caused by snails and slugs is very similar to the damage insects cause to vegetation.
However, you can differentiate snail damage because snails often target leafy greens like lettuce, flowers, or fruits. They like plants rich in moisture and nutrients, and they often leave behind jagged holes in leaves when they feed. Accompanying these holes are, as mentioned above, slime trails.
Along with being attracted to tender, leafy greens, snails are also attracted to seedlings. They can seriously weaken seedlings or hinder their growth if enough snails are feeding at a time. In fact, if you have enough snails in your garden, they can destroy over half of new growth just by feeding.
An Uptick In Snail Predators
If you’re noticing an uptick in some of these animals in your garden, there is a good chance you’re dealing with snails.
Seeing The Snails Themselves
Perhaps the most common sign of snails in your garden is sighting the snails themselves. Though snails are generally nocturnal, remember that they are attracted to water and are sometimes seen during the day, especially after a good rainfall or after you water your yard or garden.
If you do notice snails, it’s important to take action to get rid of them. And with that noted, let’s take a look at some of the best products we recommend to manage snails.
How To Get Rid Of Snails – Products We Recommend
Snails can damage edible plants like vegetables and fruits.
Although we do know the answer to are snails insects is no, we also know that snails can be quite damaging to certain plants. Like insects, snails feed on garden plants and vegetation, and they can be especially problematic not just to our gardens, but also to large crops.
Luckily, there are some products you can use to manage and remove snails effectively. Take a look.
Corry’s Slug And Snail Killer
Are snails insects? We know they are not, and this can make getting rid of them somewhat complicated. However, there are products you can use to get rid of snails even though the answer to are snails insects is a no.
The above snail killer by Central Garden Brands works to kill slugs and snails and is safe to use on ornamental plants, vegetation, fruit, and turf. It is safe for people and pets and there is no wait time once the product is applied.
Exterminators Choice Slug And Snail Spray
Another product that works to kill snails even though the answer to are snails insects is no is by Exterminators Choice. This product is a slug and snail defense spray. It works using natural ingredients and is safe and effective to use around people, pets, and the environment.
It works using essential oils like cedarwood oil and other plant-based ingredients that will help protect your plants and vegetation from these pests.
How To Prevent Snails From Coming Back To The Garden
Once you get rid of snails, it’s a good idea to invest in preventative measures to keep them from coming back.
Depending on the intensity of your snail infestation, getting rid of snails can be costly and take a good amount of time. Once you have managed to get rid of snails, you’ll want to take steps to keep snails from coming back.
Are snails insects? No, but there are similar steps that you would take for common garden insects to help prevent snails from coming back around once you have gotten rid of them.
The answer to are snails insects is no and this can work to your advantage when it comes to protecting your garden plants.
This is because slugs and snails produce mucus that reacts with copper and causes a shock to snails, which they obviously don’t like. The above knitted copper wire can help keep snails and slugs from coming around your garden without the use of chemicals, which is always a plus!
Mighty Mint Pest Control Spray
Mighty Mint can help repel both snails and insects, even though the answer to are snails insects is no. This is because snails are sensitive to potent smells, especially the smell of peppermint.
Mighty mint is a natural and plant-based insecticide that uses essential oils and plant-based ingredients to repel snails. It can also kill pests on contact when used as directed. Best of all, this product is safe to use on edible plants and is harmless to people, pets, and the environment.
Are Snails Insects? Best Home Remedies For Getting Rid Of Snails
Essential oils and vinegar and salt can help repel snails in your garden.
Just because the answer to are snails insects is no, there are still plenty of home remedies you can use to get rid of these pests that you might also use to get rid of insect pests as well.
Best of all, many of these home remedies to get rid of snails and protect your garden will work against insects and contain natural ingredients that are safe to use around people and pets.
Take a look!
Are Snails Insects – Copper Tape
As we mentioned above, copper is harmless to people and pets, but it actually causes a unique electric shock to snails when they come into contact with it. This is believed to be due to the slime snails produce, which interacts with the copper to create this reaction.
For this reason, snails will go out of their way to avoid copper. This means that copper lining or copper tape placed around your garden is one of the most effective and maintenance-free methods you can use when it comes to protecting your plants from snails and slugs.
Essential oils have long been used as a form of insect control for pests. But are snails insects? No. Still, essential oils can work to get rid of them if you are using the right kinds.
The best essential oils for getting rid of snails include:
- Cedarwood Oil
- Pine Oil
- Rosemary Oil
- Lavender Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- And Hyssop Oil
You can make your own essential oil spray by combining two cups of water with ten to twenty drops of the essential oils of your choice, or you can saturate cotton balls with the above essential oils and place them strategically around your garden.
You will need to repeat this process once every three days to keep snails at bay, especially if there has been heavy rain or if you have recently watered your garden.
Place Crushed Egg Shells, Sand, Or Coffee Grounds Around Your Garden
We’ve determined that the answer to are snails insects is no, and while this can make getting rid of them somewhat complicated, it can also work to your advantage.
Snails are soft-bodied animals that can easily be deterred by jagged edges from sharp sand, coffee grounds, or eggshells. One of the easiest ways to get rid of snails humanely and protect your garden in the process is to create a barrier around plants and vegetation using crushed eggshells, old coffee grounds, or sand.
To keep snails away from your plants long-term, you will need to repeat this method once every few days to a week.
Are Snails Insects? NO! So Try Salt, Vinegar, or Baking Soda
When asking are snails insects, most of us already know that salt will kill snails on contact. However, did you also know that vinegar and baking soda can work to kill snails as well?
You can use the above products directly on snails to kill them or you can make a concoction of vinegar, salt, and baking soda to spray on the pests to get rid of them in a targeted manner.
We should note that slats especially can damage plants and leave blemishes on your lawn.
The best way to get rid of snails using salt, baking soda, or vinegar is to create a barrier around your garden. This will deter snails and protect your plants without harming your garden.
Make Your Own Slug or Snail Repellent Spray
Coffee grounds can help to repel snails due to their jagged shape, but coffee grounds poured directly into a spray bottle can also help repel snails. Simply pour your old coffee grounds into the water of a spray bottle and spray this on your plants. The coffee will make the leaves of these plants bitter and will help deter snails and other pests.
The biggest issue with using a DIY coffee repellent spray is that this product requires a routine application. The coffee solution will quickly be washed away next time you water or next time it rains.
Make Snail Beer Traps
Another home remedy you can use to get rid of snails and slugs is to make your own beer trap. Snails are attracted to beer, and you can use this to your advantage when it comes to asking yourself are snails insects or how to get rid of snails.
To make your own beer trap for snails, place a flat tin of beer in your yard or garden. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap and mix it into the beer until you see suds.
The snails will climb the dish and fall into the trap, drowning. The soap is an optional additive to this beer trap, but it can help further coat and suffocate the snails more quickly.
The below video gives more insight on how to make your own organic beer trap to kill snails.
Remove Snails By Hand
The least expensive way to get rid of snails in your garden is to remove them by hand. This method works well if you only see a few snails at a time, however, if you notice that you have an abundance of snails then this method could be tedious and time-consuming.
Snails are harmless to people, though the slime they produce can contain bacteria that can be dangerous if ingested. Be sure you wear gloves when removing the snails from your garden and wash your hands thoroughly after handling them.
Are Snails Insects? Tips On Keeping Snails And Slugs Out Of Your Garden
Snails target a vareity of plants and fruits, so it’s important to keep them under control.
So, are snails insects? Though they look a bit like insects and even behave somewhat like insects, snails are actually mollusks. As such, they rely heavily on moisture, food, and shelter in order to survive and thrive.
This means that getting rid of snails doesn’t have to be any more difficult than getting rid of their insect counterparts. Still, once you do get rid of snails, you’ll likely want to take steps to keep them from coming back.
With that noted, we have listed some of our expert tips and tricks for keeping snails from coming back to your garden or getting out of control.
Use A Repellent To Protect Plants And Vegetation
Just as you would with insects, it’s important to use a form of pest repellent to keep snails from getting into your garden.
The more attractive your yard or garden is to snails, the more snails you’ll have to contend with. While we know that the answer to are snails are insects is no, that doesn’t mean you can’t treat them as such.
Repel snails and pests using a common pesticide that specifically claims snails as one of the targeted pests on the label.
Use Companion Planting To Repel Snails And Slugs
Are snails insects? Nope, but they can still be repelled by companion planting.
Companion planting is another natural and effective method you can use when it comes to getting rid of snails.
Snails are sensitive and are repelled by plants like rosemary, thyme, parsley, peppermint, sage, and lavender. By planting some of these plants in your garden, you are not only giving it a lush and vibrant look, but you are also going to keep pests at bay.
These plants not only repel snails but also insects like spiders, roaches, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and more.
Invite The Predators That Eat Snails
Are snails insects? No, but many of the same predators that feast on insects feast on snails. These predators include but are not limited to:
You may not want to invite all the above predators to your yard in an effort to get rid of snails, although there are ways you can strategically make your yard more inviting to some of the above predators while still keeping others at bay. It may just take some time, patience, and research.
Remove Excess Water Sources Around Your Yard Or Garden
Like insects, (and remember, the answer to are snail insects is no), snails are attracted to excess water sources. These water sources could include water fountains, ponds, streams, and water gardens. While you likely won’t want to get rid of these sources of water, you can remove water sources that don’t belong like overturned buckets and clogged drains.
We also recommend that you avoid overwatering your yard or garden, or spot water as needed.
Water Early In The Day As Opposed To Just Before Dark
Speaking of not overwatering your garden to keep snails at bay, one of the best ways to keep snails under control is to water during the day. This will help ensure that the water dries by the evening when snails are most likely to come out in search of food and moisture.
Remove Excess Debris That Could Provide Shelter To Snails
Snails are also attracted to areas that could provide shelter and protect them from predators. Keep your yard properly landscaped and remove excess debris like large stones, buckets, garden decore, unused pots, and overgrown shrubs.
So, what do you think about the answer to are snails insects? Are you surprised they are actually animals more closely related to octopuses than bugs?
Share your thoughts with us on are snails insects in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.