Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Impromptu Nature Lessons..

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While out checking on my lettuce plants I started noticing the tell tale signs of snails.. you know, that bit of slime they leave behind, the holes in my lettuce leaves.  Morgan and I did a quick check on them yesterday and came up with one VERY large snail. He wasn't shy either and came right out. Morgan was quick to ask questions and poke at it. Much to his delight the snail would suck the bit Morgan touched in, and then stick it back out again. Unfortunately we were on our way out and Jayden was all ready buckled in the car. So I chucked the snail over my neighbor's fence (no one currently lives there) and went on my way. Today, we did another quick scan of the lettuce and found 4 snails. We plucked each one off and set them on the sidewalk as we kept searching.

Jayden was present for this and would reach out his hand to touch it then pull his hand back and cry. Seriously, cry. I asked what was wrong and he said, "I want to be brave enough to touch him, but I can't be!" You see, we'd checked a book out of the library called What Lives on A Shell, (It's one of those awesome Let's-Read-And-Find-Out science books!), and discovered that Morgan had been poking our snail invader in the eye! 

Don't ask me why the silly snail was willing to let him poke, and poke, and poke, but it did. Morgan was gleeful with his poking and the snail encouraged him with the constant eye popping back out at us. These snails aren't small. I'm talking big massive things. In fact, when we studied France last year we discussed a snail race, but the snails at that time weren't as friendly.

After much persuasion, and some hand holding Jayden became brave enough to poke a snail's eye. I know this sounds really weird and gross, and possibly even cruel, and yet it was truly amazing to watch these snails not hide in their shells or pull away. Instead, they'd come back over and over again. We took a bit of video of the process, and I'll see if I can upload it in the morning.

As for more information on snails.. May I start by saying the Aussie snails I've seen could easily eat two American snails-- for breakfast. No joke!  These things are BIG. Turns out that while they may all look the same to us, they aren't. There's well over a thousand different kind of snails, wonder if there's a kind that doesn't like my lettuce...  

Despite the part the boys were poking being straight on top of the head, it was the eyeball.. the antenna is down low, check it out in this picture:


Notice the large bits coming out of the top of his head, those are his eyes, the smaller ones underneath, one bent towards the ground, are his antenna which he's using to sniff things out.



here's three, the one up front is obviously the biggest, the smallest one was still bigger then a normal American pond type snail though..


Mind you, while the snails were fascinating we still discussed many ways of keeping our garden free of them. Honestly, I don't mind the snails, as long as they stay out of my vegetables, but they seem to have a total disregard for this one particular rule.. Mmm.. We've borrowed a book from the library entitled Stamp, Stomp, Whomp. Which has many natural ways of getting rid of unwanted pests. Several great ideas for snails as well, and while the Snail Soup is suppose to be the most effective, I'm not into stomping on snails to make it.

The boys informed me that Nana has a great snail trap, and the afore mentioned big actually has instructions for making one. Maybe I'll turn the kids loose with the recycling and see what they can come up with, but the idea was that you use your trapped snails for the snail soup..

I think for now I'll just keep plucking our snails off the lettuce and chucking them over the fence.. that is until someone moves in. In the mean time, I think I may need to move our lettuce in an attempt to deter our unwanted veggie nibbles. Jayden just might be brave enough to help chuck them over the fence by the end of the summer.. for now, he'll stick with poking them instead..



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