”Chicken or Beef?” Well … not quite.

As  chicken or beef are to the average airline passenger prawns or snails are to the average Johannesburg gardener.

And when I say prawns and snails … well a snail is a snail but over here a prawn is one of these …


The notorious Parktown Prawn. A species of King Cricket that generally lives in the soil … until it rains, and then, like zombies from The Night of the Dead, they emerge from their underground lairs, make a beeline or cricketline for the warm, dry indoors and terrorize the occupants, often ejecting foul smelling fecal matter as they bounce all over the place like some genetically modified mini-alien from a Ridley Scott movie. And as there is no Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley to save the day everyone invariably ends up running around the house flapping their arms screaming blue murder. Not me of course. Hah!

Being the Man of the House, I immediately spring into  action. Usually by sneaking out the back door, slamming it shut and leg it to the pub. Then, from the safety of my bar stool, like ET, I  phone home every ten minutes or so for updates until the All Clear signal goes up. Only then, heavily fortified, will I come back home handing out kudos for bravery to all and sundry.

But this year … No. Damn. Prawns! Yay!

Er … not so fast with the rejoicing there, Poindexter.

Although these nasty looking brutes were unknown in Johannesburg before 1960 they now play quite an important role in the suburban garden.

Which is why the average Jo’burg gardener has a choice …. prawns or snails. And when I say ”choice” it is usually at the fickle discretion of Mother Nature, who may well be influenced by global warming.

The Parktown Prawn likes nothing more than a lush suburban garden … well nothing more than maybe dozing inside your slipper next to your bed just waiting for you to need a late night visit to the loo …. and you cannot really have a lush suburban garden if you don’t have rain. Or a lot of irrigation.

With lots of water the Prawns thrive, and they attract the Hadeda Ibis, which love to nosh on lawn crickets but especially Parktown Prawns.

This year the rains were late. Too late, in fact, and we had a severe drought. Thus, practically no prawns, which meant a lot fewer Hadeda Ibis. And even the occasional Hoopoe that popped by would turn up empty-beaked after a short spell of disconsolate probing.  It really was a lost cause. So, the snails have multiplied and gone bonkers.

Prawns eat snails, you see. They are natural enemies. No prawns …. well, you can guess, and whatever other natural enemies the snails have are demonstrating a marked lack of interest.

So there are snails all over the place, and with their number one enemy out the picture they are reveling in Brassica Heaven. So much so that, on their albeit slow travels they have discovered  Gazanias,  and Roses and a number of other incidentals along their slimey way.

Caution: Crunchy under foot.

I have collected loads of snails of various sizes in several plastic ice cream containers ( empty in case you were wondering) at least once a week for the past month.

I am fearful of  putting down any pellets because of the pets and besides, I utterly loathe killing anything these days if I can possibly avoid it. In fact I am becoming concerned I may wake up one morning craving to shave my head and wear a saffron robe and carry a small brush to clear my path of potential Stomping Victims.

So, as we live on quite a large split-level stand (plot) I deposit the snails in this overgrown part of the garden away from most plants and veggies and maybe they can battle it out with any predators that may be lurking down there in the undergrowth or somewhere in the cosmos.


Meantime, on one of my Search and Clear missions I came across this snail helping out an obviously exhausted crab spider.

Respect where respect is due, right?



15 thoughts on “”Chicken or Beef?” Well … not quite.

  1. Never knew the name of the PP , when I grew up in the Cape it was not something I had ever seen. Up here I thought it was something really nasty especially if it creeps into your shoe eek… But as you say the Hadeda saved us. And we don’t have 🐌 either, probably because we have few 🌺 too many trees probably and a lazy gardener aka yours truly. But we have many birds at least.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This really is the first year I have ever seen more than the occasional snail. And also the first year I can recall not seeing at least one Prawn in the house almost every day during summer.
      It is most odd.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wait – so the only bad thing about the prawns is that they freak people out? They sound wonderful, actually. Eat snails, feed birds. They don’t freak me out, anyway! Not like the flying cockroaches the size of your thumb we had in Florida. They stunk like cheap cherry flavouring if you squished them – what the hell would want to eat that?
    I’ve said it before: I feel guilty for killing a carrot plant because I have to eat its root. I also did a science experiment as a kid that has left a lasting impression that plants also know they are alive. Which means I’d starve to death if I wore that saffron robe and shaved my head into a topknot.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I learned some things. Here a prawn is a shrimp, not a cricket. And I didn’t know that crickets aka prawns eat snails. The latter is good to know, as we have been overrun by crickets this winter in our hoop house. So at least I shouldn’t have to worry about snails. 🙂
    Enjoyed the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome, Bill.
      Ordinary crickets, no. But then, these horrible little buggers are in no way ordinary and are, in fact, tough SOBs and would probably chew on your leg given half a chance. They certainly will climb up you leg, and have godsawful spikey legs that grip terribly!
      I f%$#”! hate them. And I am using the word hate for a cricket!


  4. I can’t even imagine what’s like having a garden. To me it means freedom, but to the likes of you – a constant labour. Beautiful images. Love the last one!


    1. It’s said you lay out a garden to relax in, and then spend the rest of your life maintaining it!
      That’s pretty close. Though I must confess, I am quite relaxed about the garden and it often shows.
      I guess I should be more involved at times but you’re right … it would be a constant labour.


      1. As long as you take macro shots and close-ups why would you care about the general state of things 😉 I feel about my flat the same. When it gets messy I get out of the house 😀


        1. I care … sort of, because the dogs live here too… and if the grass or the weeds get too long you have to be really careful where you step …. know what I mean? 🙂

          We lived in a flat for 7 years. The lock up and go life definitely has a great many plus factors.

          Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s