Super sized slugs could be coming to garden near you

The Green Cellar Slug SUS-160405-085413001
The Green Cellar Slug SUS-160405-085413001

Gardens in the Hastings and Rother area could be facing an unwelcome invasion of super slugs this summer.

Due to a change in recent weather patterns and a lack of hard frost this winter, our slug population is booming.

Unlike snails, slugs are active above 5°c and Britain’s mild winter means they’ve been awake for a longer season than usual and therefore able to reproduce all winter – at a much faster rate than usual – the result of which is a population explosion.

As these sleepless slugs are laying between 20 and 100 eggs a time, one cubic metre of garden could contain up to 200 slugs, with the average UK garden home to up to 20,000.

The number isn’t the only problem – mild weather also means a better food supply and with the lack of sleep meaning more time to eat, they are bigger than ever before.

Invaders include the Green Cellar Slug, which can grow to 10cms in length, and the Budapest Slug, which grows to 7cms.

Duncan McLean, of Wyevale Garden Centres, which raised awareness of the issue, said: “Thanks to another unseasonably wet and mild winter with few hard frosts, our slugs simply haven’t hibernated as they usually do.

“They’re grazing constantly on prematurely budding plants, getting larger and larger in the process - up to 40 times their body weight - whilst also having the time to breed more, adding to existing colonies and spelling disaster for our gardens.”

Matt Shardlow, CEO of Buglife commented: “Due to climate shifts, warmer winters and wetter summers, we’re seeing slugs become active all year round, whereas key predators like amphibians will only lay their eggs once year slugs are not so restricted.

“Coupled with the fact that general slug varieties are also reaching full size earlier than ever, gardeners are simply not getting any respite and need innovative management solutions.”

Gardeners could consider growing plants that slugs fon’t like, which include geranium, fuchsia, foxglove and Japanese anenome.

They should also consider encouraging natural predators such as birds, frogs and hedgehogs into their garden – helping to keep their slug infestation down as well as helping to protect native British wildlife.

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