Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - May 23, 2007

From: austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Ravaged by snails
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Our Prickly Pear Cactus is being completely ravaged by snails. Is there something in my yard that could be attracting them? Is there something I can do to keep them off the plant? Also is is safe to cut the cactus all the way down since the whole thing is eaten? Thanks!

ANSWER:

The most attractive garden elements for snails and slugs are good hiding places. These creatures spend most of their time lurking in moist sheltered spots and do their hunting and feeding during nighttime hours. If you remove or otherwise make unsuitable the places snails like to hide, they will simply go elsewhere. Unfortunately, the structure and growth habit of prickly pears often provide good shelter for these slimey little mollusks.

There are several non-toxic (to humans and other vertebrates) control strategies that you might employ to kill or repel your garden snails. Here is a link to an excellent article from The University of California on snail and slug management. One of the copper-based strategies described in the article, along with removal of hiding places, will likely yield the best results for you.

You can cut your cactus to the ground. It is possible that it will resprout and grow assuming that the snails have first moved on elsewhere. In your area (Austin, TX), if it does not resprout from the stump, prickly pear is easily propagated by simply placing a pad into contact with the soil in the desired location. It will soon sprout and begin to grow and before long you will have a new plant and a source for nopalitos.

 

More Pests Questions

Why are the eastern red cedars in Bastrop/Travis County turning brown?
May 11, 2009 - I live on the Bastrop/Travis county, TX line and have many eastern red cedars on my property. About 10 of them are dying and it has happened quickly with the onset of the warmer weather. I noticed d...
view the full question and answer

Antelope Resistant Plants for Casper, Wyoming
August 12, 2011 - What are some drought resistant, full-sun plants for Wyoming that are Antelope resistant - Deer are not much of a problem, but antelope are!
view the full question and answer

Tip Dieback on Lonicera sempervirens
August 14, 2013 - I have a Lonicera sempervirens (coral honeysuckle) vine in Virginia which does well early in the season, but then around July, the very tips of its shoots (just the last 1-2 inches) wither, turn black...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Shumard Oaks and Crepe Myrtle in Cooke Co. TX
September 07, 2013 - I have a Shumard Oak Tree that has been in the ground approx. ten years. It has done great, even passing up some of my older Shumards. In August it began to lose its leaves at an alarming rate. They a...
view the full question and answer

Identification of red and black insects on Yucca
May 10, 2008 - I have little red and black insects on my soft leaf yucca and I don't know what they are or how to get rid of them. They make the leaves rusty looking. Do you have any idea what they are or how I can...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.