If you have been gardening for a while now, you know that snails and slugs can be very damaging pests. The mollusks, as they are classified, thrive in warm and humid climates, and you will often spot them during the rainy season or in areas with plenty of water.
Snails carry a calcium carbonate shell that differentiates them from the Slugs. They prefer hanging around well-mulched gardens, along foundations, and under rocks.
Snails and slugs feed on plant matter, and there is a greater likelihood of them feasting on your ripe tomatoes as well.
We look in-depth into this potential problem and suggest some fixes that you can apply.
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Will Snails And Slugs Eat Tomato Plants?
The short answer to whether snails and slugs eat tomatoes is a yes. Slugs and Snails can ideally feed on tomatoes.
They always cherish an opportunity to eat the acidic fruit and consume other parts such as tomato leaves and stems. They often leave behind tiny holes with traces of a slimy substance.
The pests are particularly fond of young and tender shoots that are beginning to sprout. Their peak feeding time is during the night when they are the most active.
Lettuce, cabbage, and beans are other plants in your garden that snails and slugs will gladly eat.
Understanding The Life Cycle Of Mollusks
Knowing the life cycle of Mollusks could prove handy in controlling them.
Mollusks reproduce by laying eggs. They lay their eggs, mainly in spring and early summer, depositing up to 100 eggs at a single time.
They prefer laying their eggs in moist and well-protected areas such as under dead leaves or mulch, soil cracks, and other protected places.
Their eggs typically hatch in 1-3 weeks, but this period could change and extend up to 12 weeks if conditions are unfavorable.
The typical period it takes a gastropod to reach maturity is 3-6 months, but some species could take more than a year.
After hatching, mollusks are always near the nest for several days before moving about in search of food.
How To Prevent Slugs From Eating Your Tomatoes?
Do you want to prevent snails from eating your tomatoes? We have some Eco-friendly ways of going about it. You are better off preventing the pests from attacking your tomatoes than getting rid of them.
However, you are free to use whatever approach works for you, depending on the magnitude or degree of infestation on your tomato plants.
Let’s get down to these methods bit by bit.
1. Sprinkle Coffee Grounds Onto Your Tomato Garden
You could use coffee to prevent snails and slugs from eating your tomatoes. It’s natural and harmless to your crop.
However, you need to watch out against sprinkling too much of it, which could be damaging. The coffee grounds are helpful to repel snails and slugs.
They hate caffeinated soil and won’t dare to cross over it. Coffee is also valuable for repelling other damaging pests like squirrels in your garden.
2. Build Snails And Slugs Traps
You could also build snail and slug traps by using cardboards. Place the boards at the base or around your tomato plants during the night.
You will find snails and slugs have crawled over to them by morning. Turn the boards over and drop the pests in a container. Next, cover the plastic containers and freeze them before dumping them off.
Another method you want to try out to lure the mollusks is using shallow dishes containing beer. You could use other alternatives in place of beer like flour, molasses, or baking yeast. The beer trap lures the snails and slugs into a drunken stupor, eliminating them ultimately.
On the other hand, you need to know that some snails and slugs are beer-resistant and will crawl out of your shallow dishes. If this is the case, use a beer bottle trap that the slugs will find difficult to climb through.
These traps should be positioned inside your garden for you to achieve the desired results.
3. Use Natural Predators
Natural predators may not be the best method to control tomato pests like mollusks in your garden, but they will help to keep their population under control.
Some natural predators to think about are ducks and chickens, which can comfortably eat mollusks and their eggs. You also want to encourage the population of frogs, turtles, lizards, hedgehogs, and ground beetles around your garden.
You can attract hedgehogs to your garden by creating a shelter for them.
4. Use Copper Tapes
Copper tapes are valuable to shock the snails or slug’s body turning them black. For the best results, introduce a perimeter wall around your plants using copper tapes.
5. Use Gravel And Mulch
There are particular types of terrain that mollusks hate that you could use to your advantage. Slugs travel by crawling, and that means some landscapes won’t be favorable for them. The topography that could work most against them is gravel and mulch.
These materials contain sharp pieces that will give snails and slugs a rough time to crawl through. Some of the tiny sharp objects stick to their bodies, causing damage.
You can put the above theory to test by sprinkling mulch or gravel on top of the tomato plant bed.
If you are growing your tomato plants in a greenhouse, spread gravel or mulch outside, around the greenhouse, preventing snails from crawling through it.
6. Handpick The Pesky Pests
Another cost-free and straightforward method of getting rid of snails and slugs from your yard or garden would be to handpick them.
You could do this around early dawn before they seek cover from the heat of the day.
7. Companion Planting
Practice companion planting to keep snails and slugs away from your tomato plants.
You can do this by planting plants mollusks love next to your most favorite plants. These plants act as a trap, distracting the mollusks from your main crop.
You can discard the infected plants later. Plants you could use as traps include Marigold and Thyme.
Plants Mollusks Hate
Did you know there are plants mollusks hate despite their penchant to feed on most plant matter? If you feel you have had enough of the pests in your garden and you want to try out some slug-free crops, the list below could prove helpful.
- Lamb’s Lettuce
That being said, these plants are not entirely safe from slugs. You are better off employing the prevention methods suggested.
Snails and Slugs are slimy pests fond of feeding on tender young shoots, leaves, and ripening fruits of various plants.
Tomatoes, beans and lettuce, and cabbage are their particular favorites. These pests leave behind numerous holes on infested plants, sometimes destroying the whole yield.
Thankfully, by deploying the methods above, you can prevent that from happening in the first place.
Job Kiniale is a certified crop scientist and gardening enthusiast with a passion to help beginning gardeners navigate their newfound hobby. Let’s talk about plants, backyard ideas, and general gardening advice. Outside work, Job loves spending time with family.