Slugs – What’s the risk?

To gardeners across the nation, slugs are an age-old enemy. On average, a UK garden is inhabited by over 20,000 slugs and it is estimated that an acre of farmland can be home to more than quarter of a million of the slimy pests.

This year, UK gardens have seen an influx of the huge Spanish slug, or ‘Arion vulgaris’, which can grow up to 6 inches in length. It has become one of the most widely reported pests of both commercial crops and home gardens. According to experts, this monster slug could breed with the native British slug to produce a super-hybrid which can survive both hot and cold climes. The near unbeatable slug would also likely be unaffected by slug pellets and farming chemicals

The RHS, however, take a cautious approach regarding how great a threat the Spanish slug is to our gardens.

Guy Barter, head of RHS advisory service, says: “We are not clear what the threat is or how widespread it is likely to be. At this point there’s no reason to be anxious about it. We need more evidence.” He notes that Spanish slugs, unless they are juveniles with two stripes down their back, are not easily distinguished from other slug types. He believes that it’s going to be difficult to identify Spanish slugs based on descriptions gleaned from visitors to the new slug-based website www.slugwatch.com. He says confirmations will require dissection in adult slugs.

Slugs have always been the gardener’s burden, and although not much has changed, it is always worth keeping up to date with the most efficient ways to deal with them when planting and growing, regardless of how ugly they may be!

For more information on the recent invasion of slugs, and how to deal with the pests, please visit http://www.thisisjersey.com/lifestyle/gardening/2013/10/29/slug-it-out/

If you’d like some more in-depth education, and a little education in slug identification, have a look at http://www.slugwatch.co.uk/.

 

 

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Photo courtesy of www.getintogardening.co.uk/

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