Our BC summer has been unusually hot–you’ve heard of those ‘dog days’, of course, that seem to crawl by through July and into mid-August. Not humid, though. Just the opposite, in fact. Too dry! Finally, today, it is raining. First time I’ve seen, heard, smelled (glorious, after all the wildfire smoke we’ve been eating) and felt rain since June. Besides ushering in the fresh air, it has brought out oodles of garden snails. But in spite of the lack of natural moisture for weeks, I’ve seen plenty of snails enjoying moist shady patches in the sprinkled garden all summer. So why not call these the ‘snail days’ of summer?
I’ve long admired the colorful swirls on snail shells. They brighten up patches of dark soil, and turn up everywhere: climbing up the sides of the rain barrel, sitting on plant stems, tracing the rims of flower pots, traversing the patio stones, even crawling up the window glass. When I mention how many I see, others frown and suggest they are bad news. But I have to look hard to see any signs of harm in the garden. Sure, the odd leaf has a few holes, and I did find one small marigold struggling to grow while being dined upon by a snail. But I can ignore that for all the good these gastropods might do.
Favorite land snail foods are rotting vegetation, algae, fungi, dying plants and dead organic matter…they take on the role of recycling and clean-up crew. Fine with me! In turn, they might be eaten by small mammals, birds, worms, insects and snakes (yes, there’s a small garter snake living in the flower bed). So unless I see a lot of plants disappearing, I’ll let nature balance the equation at a snail’s pace.