Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Salamanders eat Slugs?

I was lucky enough to talk with my good friend Apple yesterday on the phone. We mulled over the "Never-ending winter" and the feet of snow surrounding her home. I briefly mentioned how I live on a wind-whipped hill top and how my snow will probably be the first in the area to go away. However, it seemed just mean to talk about my "greener" condition for very long.
Instead the conversation turned to garden pests. In my opinion, snakes are the worst garden pest that there is. After all, there is only one garden pest that can make me leave the garden running and screaming, and quite frankly making a spectacle of myself. However, Apple loves her garden snake because since he's made himself at home under her hosta she has had no more slug damage. (BTW, I will never go near her Hosta again!) I was surprised to hear that she had slugs as my visit to her garden last year revealed lots of beauty and I didn't see a single pest. She then revealed that she has every garden pest imaginable. I was shocked!

We live within a half hour of each other and yet I have never had a pest problem. I've really only seen garden pests in books. Now, I've seen her gardens and we are members of the same garden club. I certainly don't have any more garden knowledge than Apple so what's the difference between her garden and mine?

The only odd thing about my garden is an abundance of salamanders and newts. I've noticed quite a few of the amphibians living in or near my gardens. I've often surprise them when I'm "fixing" the rocks that border my raised beds. But everything I've learned about Salamanders & Newts say they need to live near water. Why are they in my garden then? I have no water features. No swampy area. No bogs. No standing water of any kind. (Although I'm working on that water feature thing~heehee.) So why are they here? And are they my secret weapon to a pest free garden?

After some research (thanks much to NY Falls) last night I have found that salamanders do like to eat slow moving prey like slugs and snails. Never having seen either in my garden though I have to wonder what comes first the slug or the salamander?


lintys said...

anything, including snakes, that eats slugs is welcome in my garden. I'm not scared of (non-poisonous) snakes, but I hate slugs.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

What comes first? The slugs - in abudance! I wish I had both snakes & salamanders. BTW, that little guy is really cute.

WiseAcre said...

I'm feeling a bit mischievous after reading your post. Invite me down to your place and I'll bring a snake or two.

You running and screaming and quite frankly making a spectacle of yourself sounds like fun. If I go home with a black eye it will be worth the sight.

CJ said...

Lintys~I don't care if slugs literally covered every inch of my property--I still wouldn't want snakes.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter~I've actually seen the blue spotted one in my garden. At first I thought he was a "miscolored" red bellied newt. So I kept him in a 5 gallon bucket until hubby came home about an hour later. Hubby informed me that he used to be pretty common around here. Sadly, they're on the brink of becoming endangered.

WiseAcre~I was going to invite you to see my garden...but now oops... looks like the invite got lost in the mail. Darn, Post Office! LOL.

Pat Leuchtman said...

We have never had much trouble with slugs, but I couldn't give a reason why. I have snakes in my garden and I welcome them in theory, but scream when they come shooting across the garden drive my husband's blood pressure up a few points. We have newts in our pond, quite a way from the garden, but toads in the garden. I assume they help. Our neighbor has a yellow spotted salamander who lives in the basement sump pump but I've never seen them anywhere else.

Blue Fox said...

I found a salamander in my pond, so I'm really careful about disturbing all the weeds in it in case they've laid eggs, but so far no luck. I've got lots of garter snakes, and did you know they can swim? I also have rubber boas, which will stop in the middle of the path, then spring to life and scare you half to death as you go to step on the 'stick'. The dogs spend lots of time stamping their feet to get some action! A neighbor also had a rattlesnake, which met an untimely end as it was in the kids sandbox - not a good place for one to hide!

Weeping Sore said...

We all have our garden pest nemeses and while snakes don't bother me, I freak out over spiders. We have spiders who keep the flying pests at bay, even though some seasons I have to wave a broom over my head when I first walk through the trees every mornin.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely salamander - wish I had some to eat the slugs in my garden!

GardenJoy4Me said...

My neighborhood seems to be lacking in this kind of wildlife and I wonder why .. the answer may be too scary .. I hope it isn't because they use so many chemicals that type of life form has been wiped out ..
I was so happy to have a frog one year .. it was a real little treasure who sang for me when I watered the garden .. I miss that so much.
I wonder if you can "buy" salamanders like ladybugs ? to live in your garden and eat those ... ugh ... slugs ..
We still have MANY feet of snow too CJ .. had to call number one son home to help me get my car out of its ice block this morning .. I'm soooooooo sick of snoooowww !

jodi said...

It's hard to have phobias, which some people do, and they're valid conditions, for sure. I'm very blessed in that I LIKE our snakes, salamanders, frogs, toads, spiders, etc, though I do get tired of walking through the big garden spider webs in late summer. And we don't have poisonous snakes here so that's a difference. We also don't have a lot of problems with any sort of pests. I wash the aphids off a few plants with just a hose, but leave other plants to trap aphids because they're food for so many wild creatures. We have some slugs, but I suspect the wildlife, including MANY birds, keeps them pretty well in check. The plants in our garden are healthy and non-chemically fed, so that also gives them more chance of fighting off disease or depredation by pests.
Now, I have an advantage over many gardeners, and I know this: I live in a rural setting and not in a subdivision plagued by covenants. I also have 7 acres (much of it paddock/pasture flanked by wild plants) so there's plenty of room for all creatures.

Except raccoons and coyotes. I despise both these creatures. The donkey keeps the coyotes away, and I bring most of the birdfeeders in every night, so that keeps the raccoons down. I threaten to break out the 20 gauge and adjust the raccoons, but it's just a threat. :-)

Apple said...

LOL - Between you and my sister and her dislike of mice/moles/voles my garden could be quite the funny gathering place this summer! My snakes are just little garter snakes and are usually quite polite about hiding when company comes ;-) I also have several toads that work hard for me. I think I could use some of your salamanders but the kids would probably trample the garden trying to catch them! I hope we don't have many tent caterpillars this year - my maples have taken a beating this week.

Anonymous said...

I found a salamander amidst the thyme in my tiny patio garden today - there's no open water within a mile, aside from the apartment swimming pool :-) Best guess is that it's moist enough under the patio concrete to keep him happy. Or maybe standing water under the building, but if so that would be pretty nasty stuff to live in.