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Slugs and Snails

  • Slugs and Snails
  • Slugs and Snails

I've often wished there were just one word for these two garden menaces - most of the time, when I refer to them, it's either to do with the damage which they cause, or how to kill them, in which case whatever I say applies equally to both.

But every time, I have to laboriously type “slugs-and-snails”.

It's not just me being a lazy typist: it makes an article less readable if it has a lot of repetition in it, and by the time you've read “slugs-and-snails” four times, well, you'd be getting a bit tired of it, too.

Did you know that in Danish, for example, they don't have two words for “slugs-and-snails”, just the one? They are all “snegl”. I am extremely envious of this, although I would just say that the word “snegl” is a little too close to “snuggle” for comfort, especially in relation to “slugs-and-snails”.

And apparently in Dutch, they call them all slak/slakken, although apparently there is a secondary distinction between 'huisjesslakken' and 'naaktslakken', which translates roughly as house snails versus nude snails, and we have to assume that nude snails are what we call slugs.

Wouldn't the English language, and gardening in particular, be so much better with just one word to cover these two items?

Of course, there is the scientific word of “gastropod” but frankly, that sounds like some sort of pop-up wine bar that serves food - and please don't tell me that snails are edible, otherwise you will have me heaving over my keyboard.

Perhaps we should invent a word of our own? According to one of my favourite books, The Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd (he of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fame, and he who invented QI), there are plenty of words “idly loafing around on signposts” which might as well be put to use.

How about Sliverands? Slyne? (a bit like “kine”, maybe that's the medieval word for them?) Smails? Snitters?

Comments (10)

  1. Grower

    Wendy Sprakes

    We do have a name for them but it's not repeatable! I did hear that the Leopard Slug is carnivorous and this has been proven in my garden - any stepped on snails will be devoured overnight by them, I've got photographic evidence that they do this. So I don't kill the leopards or the black ones, only the nasty big brown articles that damage my little seedlings.

  2. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hey Wendy, I was hoping for a not-unrepeatable name!

    Yes, I also read that those enormous Leopard slugs will eat other slugs, which on the one hand is a good thing: but on the other hand, it mean they will get bigger... and bigger.... oooer!

  3. Grower

    Wendy Sprakes

    Not wanting to worry you, but I've also seen them clear up dog poo. They do a valuable service. Must admit I haven't seen one as huge as your picture. That is a bit alarming. I'll try not to have nightmares!

  4. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    They eat dog poo? (astonished face) Wow, let's start breeding them - I could do with an army of them to clear up the footpaths around where I live!

    And not to worry you in return, but I have been told that the one in my picture (which made me shriek like a girly when I saw it) is a relatively small one.....

  5. Grower

    Wendy Sprakes

    Uurrgh - I'm such a pathetic wimp with slugs. I'm sure it's a phobia.
    Yes, several devoured a nugget of dog poo that some kind dog owner had neglected to collect. I was bracing myself to do it, but noticed quite a lot of slime on the pavement so I left it another night. Sure enough, the nugget had diminished the following morning, more slime evident.
    Most of our leopards are a lot smaller than that one. I'm going to keep telling myself that it's because we're relatively north - just don't tell me you're in John O'Groats!!!!

  6. Grower

    Paul & Valerie Guppy

    I used nematodes last Spring and it worked,hardly any slugs.However in the Autumn all my phlox were absolutely covered in tiny baby snails.I have never seen anything like it.I went out everyday and picked loads off.I started keeping a total and in a four week period I killed over 3000.I don't know whether it was just a peculiarity of last year ,or because I had killed the slugs and there was more food for the snails to breed lots of babies.I hated killing the babies, but imagine if that lot grew to adults-I wouldn't have had anything left alive in the garden.

  7. Grower


    After finding this one (pictured) in the garden, I have started to use molluscicides. There was no any other way around trying to grow vegetable seedlings. I suppose this is Arion something.

    • Slugs and Snails
  8. Grower

    Wendy Sprakes

    Yuck and double yuck!!!!

  9. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    With yuck topping! And some "eeeeuuuww" sprinkles!

  10. Grower

    Wendy Sprakes

    Hee hee!

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