Gardeners beware – this spring could be a bumper season for slugs.
The wet weather we’ve had so far this winter has created conditions that have allowed the lettuce-munching pests to flourish.
On top of this, earlier mild weather meant many slugs did not need to hibernate, so carried on laying eggs.
The Royal Horticultural Society’s chief horticulture adviser, Guy Barter, said our best hope is a dry spring, which will reduce slug numbers. If that doesn’t happen, we can expect an onslaught of the slimy creatures.
And all the incoming cold snap will do is delay their destruction for a little longer. Slugs are active when the temperature is above 5C.
The Royal Horticultural Society’s chief horticulture adviser, Guy Barter, said our best hope is a dry spring, which will reduce slug numbers
Mr Barter said: ‘Last year, after a dry spell which didn’t do the slugs any good at all, we had mild wet weather all the way though to early autumn. That allowed the slugs to multiply, so it’s likely there were a high number of slugs going into the winter, which has not really been very cold.
‘Unless we have another spring drought, we can expect the slugs to be doing their evil work in greater numbers than normal. Spring in Britain is normally very wet so it’s highly likely gardeners will have to be on their guard.’
In addition, gardeners will no longer be able to tackle the problem by buying metaldehyde slug pellets in large packets, as the Health and Safety Executive has stipulated these must be sold in pack sizes smaller than 250 to reduce harm to wildlife and pets. It is believed that the average British garden contains more than 20,000 slugs and snails.
There are 44 species of slug in the UK, only some of which damage plants. Fond of a midnight feast, slugs are most active at night.
They create a network of holes in plant tissue and can kill young seedlings by decimating them. Some live underground and can even tunnel through potato crops. Slugs can remain active throughout the year, unlike snails, which are dormant during autumn and winter. As many gardeners know, damage is most severe during warm humid periods.