Do some plant scents send snails packing?
HAVE you ever wondered why slugs and snails demolish certain seedlings, but give other varieties the cold shoulder? Scientists from the University of Plymouth may have come up with the answer.
The boffins collected hundreds of snails from the Plymouth and Southampton areas, presented them with a variety of 14 grassland seedlings and recorded which they ate or ignored.
Each of the species was then catalogued for the presence of common defensive compounds associated with taste, and for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with smell, to determine whether the snails’ choices were linked to the presence or absence of either.
Dr Mick Hanley, who led the research team, said: “We had believed for many years that molluscs chose seedlings based on their taste. But for a tiny seedling, even a single bite from a snail would probably be fatal.
“Our research suggests that seedlings of some species use repellent volatile chemicals to prevent slug or snail damage before it occurs and so avoid any damage at all.”
The research may be used in work to harness naturally occurring substances that will help protect crops from slug and snail attacks.
Research shows that snails are repelled by natural scents excreted by certain plants