Snails, Flies and Other Pests … Sorry, Creatures

As part of what is becoming a series of posts on here that are totally unrelated to trains, bikes or music, here is a brief tale about Sue.  (For new readers, Sue is my wife). I am sure that she was some kind of small creature in a past life, probably a fly.

While most of us who see such creatures as pests would kill them at the drop of hat, Sue’s approach is very different. I used to think that it comes from  Buddhist philosophy. Although I now know that this is too simplistic a view of this religion. However, Sue won’t kill or even mistreat any living creature if she can possibly help it.

This leads us to some wonderful situations where she holds the back door open and invites a fly to leave the kitchen. Yes, she talks to them – out loud! Even more strangely, it seems to work. The offending fly almost always goes straight outside, never to be seen in our kitchen again.

I have also heard her apologising to spiders when she carefully traps them in a class and takes them outside.

However, the most recent adventure must be her best ever. Our house has a small front lawn and a larger back garden, both of which seem to have increasing large populations of snails. Whenever it rains, dozens of them appear from under the bush or other hiding place and can be seen all over the grass, on paths and on the driveway. When it dries up or gets warmer, they disappear back into shelter.

I found this explanation of their behavior on the New Scientist website (slightly edited by me):

 The garden snail, Helix aspersa or Cornu aspersum, was accidentally introduced into England, probably in Roman times, by trade with mainland Europe. Among other habitats, it is associated with disturbed areas such as gardens and waste ground.Avoiding loss of water is a major priority in the life of a snail, and is perhaps the single most important factor influencing their day-to-day activity and behaviour. As a result snails are essentially reclusive animals, spending much of their lives hidden away in sheltering microhabitats. Gardeners will be well aware that they can be found in abundance under bricks or stones.

Garden snails commonly come together in places that offer some type of protection, in particular to undergo aestivation and hibernation. Aestivation is a period of inactivity in dry weather during which snails avoid losing moisture by withdrawing into their shell and adhering to a substrate via a mucous membrane.

The other day, we finally agreed that we would have to do something about our snails. However, we ignored all the advice about how to kill them.

Instead, it was late one damp night that we ventured out into the front garden armed with a torch, a bucket and a pair of rubber gloves. I held the torch and acted as spotter while Sue picked up each snail and put it in the bucket. In about half an hour the bucket was three-quarters full with some serious escape attempts under way. Snails are tenacious little creatures and given half a chance would have been out of the bucket and along Sue’s arms. However, she was too quick for them.

With most, but by no means all, of the snails from the front garden in the bucket, the next problem was to decide what to do with them. As I have said, killing them was completely out of the question, so Sue and I set off down the street to a piece of waste ground at the side of a warehouse unit about 200 yards away from our house where the snails were re-housed into a clump of grass at the side of a large bush.

The following evening, we repeated the exercise in the back garden, rehousing almost as many snails again.

I still have my fingers crossed that we took them far enough that they won’t find they way back to our highly desirable snail sanctuary.

The amazing thing about Sue’s approach to living creatures is that we both eat meat.  I have admittted in the past that I am something of a hypocrite about this because I don’t have to hunt and kill the animals. I’m actually not keen on eating anything that I recognise as having once been alive, so that rules out quite a lot of fish for me, but I love beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey.

Maybe there’s not that much difference between Sue and me – we’re just a pair of old softies.

Ride Safe

PS I’ll be back tomorrow with another date related post. 


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