Do some plant scents send snails pack­ing?

Amateur Gardening - - Your Gardening News -

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

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