Simple Joy

Tiger Stripes of a Snail

While the desert valley where I live has many native species of snails, I don’t see them often in our garden. The snails I do see often are the┬ádecollate snail (Rumina decollata), a small snail with a spiral shell, which was introduced to prey on the brown garden snails that were introduced for escargot.

In our garden, we have lots of decollate snails, but they don’t cause much damage to plants.

I’ve introduced a few of the brown garden snails when I’ve brought home plants from the nursery. Standing in line at the nursery, I sometimes notice a brown garden snail nestled under the leaf of a plant I’m buying, or tucked under the lip of the black plastic nursery pot. Of course I could take the snail out there at the nursery, but I always let them catch a ride home with me.

We’ve never been overrun with brown garden snails, due, perhaps to the decollate snails, or, more likely, to the harsh pre-monsoon summer conditions. Even with daily watering, the garden gets awfully hot and dry when the temperatures are above 100 for days and days on end.

This year, I’ve seen several large brown garden snails. Our winter was mild, and the heat has been slow coming on this year, so the snails are enjoying climbing through the pots and eating the yellowing leaves of pansies.

I love to see them. Their tiger-stripes shells are beautiful to me, and they remind me of gardening in the Pacific Northwest, where snails and slugs really are garden pests and can clear out a bed of seedlings overnight.

We don’t have to worry about that here, so I can enjoy the beauty of the snails and remember them in the northwest gardens with fondness. Isn’t that the way it goes with challenges? When we step away from them, they become something to remember fondly.


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