Beech Trees and Snails

Beech trees (Fagus spp.) Are deciduous trees developed for their grayish-silver bark and compact canopy. Depending on the species, beech trees develop in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. The beech tree is no stranger to pests and can come under assault by snails. Generally, a healthy beech tree can defy a snail infestation, which proves to be more of an annoyance than a true danger. But snails can still damage the tree and should be controlled if their numbers climb.

Snails and Trees

Snails can infest more or less any type of tree. But some snails prefer a hollow beech tree. Most species of beech trees have a tendency to become hollow as the tree ages. This is typically caused from a respiratory disease which results in wood decay. A hollow trunk doesn’t indicate that the tree will die, though it does cause the beech more vulnerable to storm damage. The American beech (Fagus grandifolia) often becomes hollow in the tree bottom, the thickest portion of the trunk. Various wild creatures gain from hollow trees by using them for cover and shelter. Snails chew irregular-shaped holes in the leaf of plants such as beech trees. They consume living plants as well as decaying plant matter. Snail damage can be confused with damage brought on by caterpillars, earwigs or other chewing pests. To pinpoint the offender, look for silvery trails about the beech tree. These paths are a sure indication that snails are attacking the tree.

Snail Baits

Various types of snail baits are available and help control these slow-moving pests. Metaldehyde is the main ingredient in several snail baits and works best during warm weather. Once the snails consume the bait, which is in pellet form, they dehydrate and die within 24 hours. But baits containing metaldehyde are poisonous for dogs, cats and wildlife and should never encounter vegetables or plants. A safer option is to use snail baits with iron phosphate as the primary ingredient. Iron phosphate snail baits do not pose a risk for pets, pets, birds or fish and also can be scattered around plants, lawns and gardens. The disadvantage to iron phosphate baits is that it takes longer — typically several days for the snails to die than with metaldehyde baits.

Snail Barriers

Copper barriers protect plants from snail damage without harming the snail. When placed around the beech tree, the copper bands or strips react with the slime which snails naturally produce and deliver an electric shock. Unfortunately, if any debris, such as a leaf, lands on the copper obstacle, the camel can use the debris for a way to move upon the copper without getting the electric shock. If copper barriers are utilized to deter snails, regular inspection to eliminate debris is needed to increase the potency of the copper.


Eliminating the ideal environment for snails helps keep their numbers in check. As an instance, snails hide under debris such as boards, stones, slid plant matter and weeds. By removing these hiding spots, you reduce the probability of a snail infestation. Snails thrive in humid conditions that can occur with poor irrigation. Replacing sprinkler irrigation with drip irrigation reduces the humidity level, developing a dryer environment that many pests, including snails, do not enjoy. Using these hints in combination with snail baits or barriers helps provide complete protection against these annoying pests.

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