Decollate Snail Predator on Garden Snails
Decollate snails, Rumina decollata, prey and feed upon the eggs and flesh of small to medium sized brown garden snails, Helix aspersa. Slugs are usually not attacked by the decollate snails. Decollate snails will grow to be about one inch long, with conical shells, making them easily distinguishable from the round brown garden snail.
Release snails in areas infested with brown snails. If you have several areas of garden or landscaping divided by walkways, place at least 12 in each area. Hand-pick or trap the larger pest snails because the predaceous snails do not feed on the largest of the brown snails.
Baits using iron phosphate as the toxicant (Sluggo, Escar-Go, and etc.) also attract and kill decollate snails. Snail baits with metaldehyde will harm the predatory snails, as well as the pests, pets (especially dogs), wildlife and soil organisms. Do not use any metaldehyde snail bait in areas of decollate snail release for at least 6 weeks. Decollate snails keep to duff or mulch covered areas mostly under plants and they do not climb. They do not cross open areas or paths. After releasing decollates you can bait in open areas such as paths or driveways or on platforms above the soil. The decollate snails will not be exposed to the bait.
Rincon-Vitova offers decollate snails in units of 100, which is an adequate number for the typical home yard, and gallons for larger applications. They are shipped in a dormant condition to protect the bodies from drying out. To revive the snails, place them in a bucket or pan and soak in about 1/4" of water for a few minutes. Drain off the water and place them in a shady location. Do not leave them submerged. To prevent escape, cover the container.
Release the snails in areas of established, recently watered ground cover or irrigated perennial shrubs, where there is a supply of moist leaf litter. For orchard use, they may be released at irrigation sites or where many brown snails are seen. Effective colonies of predators can be established in orchards from releases of 1,000 decollate snails per acre. To provide an immediate food source, mash a few of the brown garden snails at the release site.
Decollate snails feed mainly at night or after a rain. Because they hide during the day, it may be difficult to locate them after release. During the cooler times of the year, the decollate snails will burrow into the soil to keep from freezing. In addition to snails, the decollate snails eat decaying organic matter such as leaf litter.
Decollate snails do not climb trees, walls or foliage as brown garden snails do.
Predaceous snails work slowly, but once established, brown garden snails are hard to find. Because of the potential impact of the decollate snail on certain endangered mollusk species, they can only be released in 12 California counties: Fresno, Kern, Imperial, Los Angeles, Madera, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.
Decollate snails feed upon eggs and small to medium sized brown garden snails, Helix aspersa. Decollates are easy to differentiate from brown snails. They have conical shells and grow to about 2-2 1/2" long while adult brown snails have 1-1 1/2" circular shells.
Decollates chew into and consume the fleshy part of the brown snail. Decollate are not successful in killing the largest brown snails. Introducing decollates will reduce the population of small to medium brown garden snails, but you will still have to handpick the largest of the brown snails until their population is reduced. Decollates do not usually attack slugs or sow bugs.
Decollates will be shipped to you in a container ready for release. Before they are packaged, the snails are forced into a dormant condition to protect their bodies from dying out. To reactivate snails, place them in a bucket or pan and soak in 1/4" of cool water for just a few minutes. Drain off the water and place them in a shady location. Make sure soil is moist. Do not leave them submerged. To prevent escape, cover the container.
Release snails in areas infested with brown snails. However, do not release them in areas where chemical snail bait has been used within the past 6-8 weeks. It will poison your beneficials. Baits using iron phosphate as the toxicant (Sluggo, Escar-Go) are safe to use with Decollate snails.
Among the best places to release snails are under irrigated perennial shrubs or ground covers where there is a rich supply of organic matter. Pick four sites in your yard and release an equal number of snails in each site. To ensure an immediate food source, smash a few brown snails near release site. Avoid releasing decollates in vegetable gardens or annual flower beds because cultivation and weeding in these areas could kill your beneficials. We recommend 1,000 decollates per acre, or 100 per normal size yard.
During the cooler months decollates will burrow into the soil to keep from freezing. They have an aversion to light and remain hidden by day. They feed mainly at night or after a rain. This may make it difficult to find them after release. Decollates are slow workers but after they are established, the brown garden snail will become hard to find.
What else do decollate snails eat? After they have reduced the brown snail population, which may take up to two years, decollates eat decaying organic matter. They do not climb trees, walls or foliage as the brown snail does. As the number of decollates in your garden increase, look for small 1/8" long snails. You can speed their spread by hand moving mature ones to new areas of infestation.
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