The blackbird and the flying snails

oil painting of Blackbird by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

My brother tells me that it’s listening for earthworms. That blackbird on our lawn is certainly on the lookout for something – but our hardworking earthworms?  I’d much prefer if he went for the snails. Those snails are the bane of my life.

Well, just one of the banes, I suppose, but those snails have been causing major problems here in Harold’s Cross ever since we began to grow our own vegetables.

I had a plan. Not a complicated one, I would simply drop them over the garden wall. Next door’s garden was just an unkempt lawn and nobody lived there, but d’you know – those snails used to come back over every night! My brother tells me that they’re like homing pigeons, they can find their way home. And I’m sure of it now because every morning, when I went out to check, there’d be less and less green shoots and more and more gastropod devastation.

I became a bit desperate. I used to go out at night with a torch and a saucepan, and I would search and find every single marauding mollusc and… but what to do with the seething, sluggy mass of Pulmonata?

I had a catapult. I would launch those slimy pulmonates into space, right over the roof of the house behind. Now, find your way home from there, you slug!

Bhuel, bhí go maith agus ní raibh go h-olc. But I was out in the garden one night around midnight. The sky was clear, the stars were twinkling bright. (I love to stand in the garden those nights and listen to the distant hum of the city). Then I heard something fall on the lawn; there it was again! Something landed behind me. I turned – and something hit me on the back of the neck! Something small and slimy…

And even though this is a terrible story (and very little to do with my art practice), I reckon I’ll be preparing the ground soon for another season of slugduggery. Any sensible suggestions would be very welcome.




  1. Here it is, Eoin. Take a pie pan and set it in the ground where the snails can get to it. Put some lager in the pan. They’ll go right for it. They’ll drown, but they’ll drown happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Never heard of flying snails… but nature is kinda crazy sometimes!
    Snails LOVE beer! 🍺 Place a lid or something you can bury in the ground so the lip is low enough for them to crawl in (or let them just fly in… just kidding) fill with beer. They will flock there and drown in their sorrows. Hope that helps!

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  3. Ní bhíodh Dad chomh ceanúil ar an seilmidí, agus bhíodh sé ag caint faoi ‘wiping your murderous feet’ roimh filleadh ar an teach!


  4. Hi Eoin, we started an organic edilble garden (not just veg but beautiful flowers and fruits too) here in the village. Up here in the north in rural Holland some people snip live slugs in half with scissors!! I’ve never been able to do such a thing and I disapprove. But innocent little me was using Escargo, which I heard later makes the snails die a slow, agonizing death. So who is more humane?
    I’ve sworn off the Escargo, not idea what I’ll do. Go back to collecting them all in the evenings and taking them for a stroll where they can do less damage until they stroll right back again? Believe me they are a plague some years, black 2 inch long slugs just dripping off everything green.

    Our solution this year in the edible garden is companion planting (mostly marigolds, calendula and herbs between the veg crops), and vigilance I guess.
    Feeling for you.
    Oh another tip, evidently they hate copper (it gives them a little electrical shock) , so copper tubing around the perimeters of the most sensitive beds might help.


    • Thanks for that Sarah, you know of course that I was only joking (mostly). I have occasionally dropped them into the wilderness next door but other than that – we have two ‘sort of’ solutions. 1. we grow potatoes, beetroot and broad beans which don’t seem to get bothered by slugs and 2. we grow some lettuce in an old bath, where we can keep an eye on them. The slugs don’t seem to be able to climb up the outside (yet). I agree with you about the slug killer, we don’t use it either and we certainly don’t snip them in half, yeuuk. All the best for now, eoin


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