Snails or Slugs
Snails and Slugs are mollusks. In their shell, Snails typically measure 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches long. Slugs, on the other hand, can measure anywhere from 1/4 to 8 inches long. Both are brown with soft, unsegmented bodies. In most cases, Snails and Slugs present more of a nuisance than any real danger to African Violets. Some species, however, will feed on Violets, eating away tell-tale strips from the leaves. These pests are most active at night. By day, you may find them taking shelter beneath leaf and flower debris which have accumulated on the surface of the soil.
If your African Violet exhibits these symptoms, it is probably being visited by Snails or Slugs.
If possible, remove Snails and Slugs by hand. Because they are nocturnal feeders, you will only find them in the open at night and in the early morning hours. During the day, you may find them hiding beneath pots or among the leaf and flower debris which have accumulated on the soil. If you are unable to control them by hand, you may want to try using a trap baited especially for Snails and Slugs. These types of traps should be available at your local hardware store or garden center. You may also want to try building a bait trap yourself. Simply pour some beer into a plastic or glazed terra cotta saucer, and leave the saucer among your plants. The smell of fermenting beer will attract Snails and Slugs into the saucer, where they will drown. Be sure to empty the saucer each day that you find Snails or Slugs in it.
As an alternative, you may want to try dusting your Violet and potting soil with Diatomaceous Earth. Diatomaceous Earth is a fully inert, non-volatile substance that has proven effective in eradicating certain pests. Strictly speaking, Diatomaceous Earth is not an insecticide. It is made from the skeletal remains of diatoms, a microscopic form of algae. When processed into Diatomaceous Earth, these skeletal remains form razor-sharp particles which cut into the bodies Snails and Slugs. While eradicating the pests, Diatomaceous Earth does not harm African Violets. To treat for Snails and Slugs, lightly dust your Violet and the surface of the potting soil with Diatomaceous Earth.
Keep the soil and the area around your Violets clean of leaf and flower debris. This is where Snails and Slugs typically find shelter when they are not eating.
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