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Unusually moist and cool summer-autumn conditions over the past few years have resulted in a sharp rise in snail populations and activity. There are three common snail species known to attack seedling crops and pastures in autumn and winter: the small pointed snail (Cochlicella barbara); the white Italian snail (Theba pisana); and the common white snail (Cernuella virgata). The occurrence of these snails is increasing in many regions within Victoria, South Australia and southern New South Wales.

Snails tend to have a preference for soils with naturally high pH and calcium levels. We have recently had a report from a farmer near Nhill, in the Mallee district of Victoria, who mentioned snails had quickly became an issue in paddocks following the application of lime. It is good proactive management practice to regularly check fence posts and roadside vegetation in summer and early autumn for signs of new snail populations. Early detection equals early control.

Snails break their summer dormancy and become active with the onset of cool and moist weather conditions. They will then begin to mate and lay eggs. Eggs are laid within the first 1 cm of the soil surface in clusters. They hatch 2-3 weeks after being laid. It is important to monitor snail population size and movement on a regular basis. 

Baiting can be an effective option to control snails. However, it is important to bait early enough in the season to control snails that are moving off their resting places but before they reproduce and lay eggs. This is because baits are less effective against juvenile snails - which are any snails hatching from eggs laid this season.

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