Great Books on Snails & Slugs–Perennial Bookworm

The Secret World of Slugs and Snails: Life in the Very Slow Lane, David George Gordon, 2010.  Sasquatch Books, 176 pages, 8.5” x 5.5”, $14.95 (paper). 

If you don’t know the first thing about snails or slugs—this should be your next read.  The inevitable question of pest control is addressed, but the main focus is to shed light on how snails and slugs fit into ecosystems as recyclers of organic matter.  And really, for serious Integrated Pest Management (IPM), we ought to be differentiating which slugs and snails are pests and which are valuable; which are native and which are introduced. Gordon makes it enjoyable to “meet the mollusks”–his chapters are peppered with amusing quotes from literary verse and song.  Karen Luke Fildes provides the charming illustrations and there’s even a recipe for growing your own escargot, which shouldn’t be surprising given Gordon’s fame for cooking with insects. The book is both fun and smart and is a wonderful introduction to some of the most ubiquitous invertebrates in our garden ecosystems.

 Land Snails of British Columbia, Robert G. Forsyth, 2004.  Royal BC Museum, 188 pages, 8.4 x 5.5”, $25.95 (paper).

Ignorance about our native terrestrial Gastropods compelled me to read this book and I immediately used the fabulous key to identify a Oregon Lancetooth (a snail). The diversity of snails and slugs in the Pacific Northwest is remarkable and this title is comprehensive for understanding and identifying our local denizens of the Order Pulmonata.  The author is careful to use the least technical terms, describe physical features such as the different surfaces of shells and the keels of slugs so that the key is usable to the inquisitive but untrained.  Truly fascinating—did you know there is a European slug that has been found in BC gardens that has a small, ear-shaped shell on its rear end?  I hope I never encounter one of these Earshell slugs in my garden.  They are carnivores known to stalk earthworms in their burrows.  If you think your lettuce and Ligularia are the only targets of slugs and snails, this book holds surprises for you and may leave you garnering more respect for the slimy among us.

© Colleen Miko, 2011

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About Colleen Miko

Colleen Miko is a certified professional horticulturist with 20 years experience in landscape design who has designed award winning gardens for the NW Flower & Garden Show as well as HGTV’s “Landscaper’s Challenge”. Colleen is a freelance garden writer and speaker who regularly writes "The Perennial Bookworm" where she reviews garden and natural science books, as well as a regular contributor to "WestSound Home & Garden Magazine" on a variety of horticulture topics.
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