Post-Apocalyptic Gastropods

     Oh Snail 
Climb Mt Fuji
But slowly, slowly!

Issa (trans. R.H. Blyth)

Reports that Melbourne is set to become the longest locked-down city in the world has me thinking strange and gloomy thoughts. Such as: is it just my perception, or are there many less snails around than there used to be?

Less little silver trails among the flower pots . . .

Less of those distinctive little holes eaten in the leaves of violets and geraniums . . .

When was the last time you, after rain, saw a garden path so covered in snails that you could hardly find a place to put your feet?

Or a big snail sliding over the top of another snail’s shell, almost tipping them both over?

Or a bowl of flat beer near the rhubarb with ten or 12 drowned snails floating in it?

An article in The Observer about the catastrophic collapse in insect populations (an estimated 75% decline in the worldwide number of insects over the past 50 years) set me wondering whether pesticides and climate change might be having a similar impact on snails, but a quick scan of the internet doesn’t reveal any equivalent articles about mass death events of gastropods.

I was also heartened to read these tweets from Alison Croggon during the week which give some hope that there are still a fair few snails lurking about:

Maybe snails are immune to pesticides and they, along with the cockroaches, will inherit the post-apocalyptic world?

At any rate here in Melbourne we finally have a “road map” out of lockdown. From about the 5th of November (Guy Fawkes!) we’ll once again be able to visit our friends, whether they live in double-fronted Edwardians with veggie gardens; or in body-corporate townhouses where backyard bonfires are banned; or all by themselves in little mobile homes. Maybe in the post-lockdown euphoria we might even be able to make a few new friends?

     After the rain
a cavoodle puppy
meets a snail. 🌵

Read my other posts and haiku, here.


Haiku, Blyth R. H., The Hokuseido Press, 1949-52.

The insect apocalypse: ‘Our world will grind to a halt without them’, Dave Goulson, The Observer, 25th July 2021.