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Snail baits PDF Print E-mail

Snail baits mostly consist of powders or pellets which contain metaldehyde, methiocarb (see Carbamates) or iron chelates (EDTA) and are spread around garden beds. It is not known how metaldehyde works, but methiocarb acts like all carbamates to interfere with the transmission of nerve impulses.

Health effects
The metaldehyde-containing pellets are moderately toxic to humans and birds. They are often brightly coloured and may be attractive to small children and birds. Methiocarb is a fairly persistent chemical and vegetables treated with it should not be harvested for seven days. Iron chelates are moderately toxic by ingestion but these pellets are not attractive to other wildlife including pets; they also decompose to a form that is a plant nutrient.

Environmental effects
Snail baits with metaldehyde or methiocarb are a hazard to pets, animals and birds. The blue snail baits may be a reason for the decline of the bowerbird near urban areas (the bowerbird collects blue objects for its nest). The hazard to pets can be reduced by placing an open-ended box over the pellets. The chemicals may wash into the soil.

A slug trap consists of a dish sunk level with the ground baited with equal parts of stale beer and sweetened water. It will trap snails and slugs. Clear out dead slugs. Physical barriers include sawdust, soot, wood ash and crushed eggshells. Slaked lime or salt will keep snails at bay but may kill plants. Encourage predators, for example birds and blue-tongue lizards. Hand-picking after rain and during the night may suffice. A garlic spray can be effective against snails.

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