Snails and Scale: A Winning Combination?


Scale and Snail

Scale to the left, snail to the right,

No, I’m pretty sure it’s not a winning combination.  For now, however, it’s what we’ve got.  Ugh.

We had a major infestation last summer, with little to do for it while the tree was blooming. I pruned close to 30% of the branches, removing the worst of the infestation. Then, we waited.

Early this year, while the tree was dormant, I worked at removing all traces of the pest.  Once I’d scraped away the hard scale, I took a bucket of warm soapy water, and wiped down every single branch, removing the black, sooty scale as well.  I checked the tree the following day, removing what I’d missed.

Scale Removal

They’re back!  The infestation isn’t *as* bad, but it’s back nonetheless.

The interesting turn of events is the snails.  I counted six or seven of them as I inspected the tree.  I was momentarily hopeful.  Could it be that this garden pest would actually snack on the scale?

Snail on a Tulip Magnolia

That was a long climb to slime a flower

Scale encrusted branch

Scale encrusted branch

Snail on a branch

Snail making tracks

Snail at apex of tree

Y do you ask?


Nope!  My research tells me they eat fruit, leaves, even paper, but not scale.  Boo!

If you’re looking for pet snails, these are free for the asking. Time to move on to plan C.

Slugs and Snails and…Slugs and Snails

You witness life at a whole different level when you crawl around in the dirt.  I was up close and personal with the camera this week, taking pictures of the flowering catnip.  I turned to my left and caught sight of a snail, sliding its way up the side of a fern.  I took several shots, none of which came out, of the snail’s careful journey.  As the gastropod gained height, the fern slowly gave way.  Up and up went the snail, down and down went the frond.  Mesmerizing!  Eventually the snail’s green path dropped but the gastropod, undeterred, continued its ascent.  I backed up and saw the rest of his slippery group heading toward cool shelter for the day.

I felt strangely voyeuristic.  Inadvertently, I stumbled upon the secret hiding place of these unwanted helix aspersa.  I don’t like it when they snack on my garden, yet they seemed harmless and graceful as they slipped out of sight. A friend recently wrote an interesting blog entitled, Evolution: Escargot, Erotica, Empathy about her own awakening to the multitude of creatures that inhabit a French field.

It’s an interesting metaphor for life, I suppose: it’s easier to fear and hate what we don’t like or understand.  A little knowledge goes along way to level the (French) field.