TY Sustainable Projects – Biodiversity & Gastropods

TY Sustainable Projects – Biodiversity & Gastropods


This project is a thorough investigation into gastropods and their impact on the environment by Cathal Heaton & Eoin Kirwan.
Their project also looks at ways of preventing damage to plant life without harming the gastropods and is one of many Sustainable Living projects happening in St Mary’s Academy CBS in Carlow.
You can also see a project on the Carbon Footprint by Colm Hulton, and a project on Electricity Consumption Awareness by Martin Power & Evan Byrne here.

Life of Gastropods

Gastropods originate in the ocean. We know this as there is evidence of such in rocks today. These rocks are called fossils. Gastropods begin their life as a larva like creature, then growing up to become either a snail, slug etc. known as a gastropod. The slugs’ physical appearance isn’t so aesthetically pleasing, one broad muscular foot topped with a gut (thus the class name gastropod). What makes slugs so unique is their slime, a soft slippery substance that covers their skin that allows them to travel along its way in a wavelike movement. The shell on their back not only acts as a place of shelter but also acts as a way to protect itself from predators and other objects. Within its shell is its vital organs, much like ours, once these are damaged the snail will most like die.

Gastropods such as snails and slugs can cause a devastating effect to both crops and plants if repellents and such are not placed. Placing repellents sometimes also have a negative effect on the land causing more damage in the long term than they are solving in the short term, there are many ways in which to repel pests by other safe and environmentally friendly means. Many ways in which we repel pests such as snails and slugs have a rather cruel element to them, often resulting in their life ending. These means are not only cruel but unnecessary when there are other means to repel them with very little harm or no harm done to the creature.

Ways In Which To Repel Gastropods

By placing some wood chipping around the crop you would deter the gastropod as the it would begin to slide along the wood chipping, noticing the friction and the difficulty of sliding across the wood chipping, deciding to end its journey towards the plant or crop, saving the plant or crop against the gastropod and also not killing it, just deterring it from your crop. Therefore making it safe for the gastropod, harming it in no way. This method is not only friendly to the gastropod but is also environmentally friendly by recycling wood from the woodwork room, giving the cast off pieces use.

Another option in which the gastropod can be repelled is by planting crops beside your plants such as weet alyssum, parsley, buckwheat, hairy vetch, yarrow, sunflowers and cosmos, these attract the gastropods attention more than the crop would, making them go for the plant rather than the crop. This method is more of a short-term option as the gastropod will eventually eat the plant, moving on to the crop. Another rather long term repellent against gastropods is to lay down glass bottles into the soil where only a slight rounded surface is showing. Due to the texture of the glass, the snail will not be able to travel up it due to it having to use slime to travel. The snail will not be able to travel up the glass surface, causing the snail to abandon its journey.

A not so suitable way but effective way is to place empty beer bottles or cans into the soil where the top is only showing. The snails are attracted to this more than the crop hence the fall inside and you can later place them in a more suitable area away from your garden. Another way in which to deter gastropods is to place coffee beans into the soil around the crop, this will keep them away from the crop without harming them in any way. This method is also environmentally friendly and a simple method to perform. They add nitrogen to the soil and they increase the acidity for acid loving plants, and, best of all, a wide range of creatures can’t stand coffee grounds. Slugs, snails etc. hate coffee

Effective Method of Repelling Gastropods

As shown in the diagram above and also discussed above, we found the most effective, cheapest and environmentally friendly method of repelling the gastropod is by laying wood chippings on the soil, causing the snail to abandon its journey due to the friction and discomfort of getting to the crop or plant, saving the crop or plant causing very minimal damage to the gastropod. The diagram above shows this.