Humidity + Rain + Summer = Snails and Iguanas !

Few things bother a gardener more than having something eat his plants wantonly. In the northeast, gardeners are infuriated by deer which eat everything from ground level to almost 8 feet off the ground. In the west, rabbits and mice can devastate a garden, and in South Florida we have our own pests as well. Iguanas have taken a huge toll on plants at Pinecrest Gardens and in many parts of southern Florida, and snails are a perennial summer invader everywhere. Both pests enjoy hot wet weather which makes plants grow quickly, producing lots of new growth ready for critter-salad. Snails are especially troublesome since they do their damage at night, and in some amazingly hard-to-reach places, leading some gardeners to believe the damage is from something else. Iguanas can climb almost any surface, are expert swimmers, and breed underground. How do we repel these unwanted marauders ?

There are numerous snail bait products on the market, some of which rely on chemical baits ( Deadline granules) to kill snails, some use natural ingredients ( Escar-Go), some are physical controls ( diatomaceous earth), and some old tactics rely on underground beer traps ( use cheap beer). Any of these tactics work well, but need to be used every few weeks throughout the season. Controlling iguanas is much harder, but there is a spray product marketed as Iguana-Rid that popped up in local stores some months ago. Routine iguana live-trapping is effective using fruit as a bait. Rumors abound about using mothballs, pool filter powder, ground pepper, or Neem oil to prevent iguanas from invading a yard although no solid tests have been published. In either case, diligence and sharp eyes will prevail, but be prepared to stay the course for at least 6 months every year.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens

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