It’s been a strange season so far for pest control in our gardens. Another relatively mild winter brought the promise of a population explosion of many pests, including slugs and snails, able to survive over winter successfully, so that many of us expected to face a barrage of slugs and snails hatching out in spring. As it goes, a prolonged cold spell, strong winds, low spring precipitation levels, as well as a few late frosts have held back the season and the anticipated slug and snail invasion has failed to happen – until that is, the last few weeks.
Recent reports in the press raise concern about the arrival of giant, cannibalistic Spanish slugs in UK gardens, the result of which has been a summer spike in the sales of slug controlling chemicals. Worryingly, experts say, when this Spanish species mates with our native British slug it will create “superslugs” capable of withstanding hot, dry conditions and traditional chemicals. In addition, these slugs possess more slimey trails than the natives, making them less palatable to natural predators such as hedgehogs. So what’s the plan of attack for tackling this super menace eating our cottage garden borders and planted pots?
Well sprinkling more metaldehyde pellets about in an attempt to stop the march is not the answer. The superslug is often repelled by too much of the active ingredient intended to kill them, defeating the purpose.
Ferric phosphate, a children and pet friendly alternative pellet, is a better prospect and, if over- dosed at least will biodegrade into the soil if not eaten.
Barrier controls such as wool-based Slug Gone or copper tape around pots present a good solution, if with more limited scope for use.
Whatever you try, always follow the directions for use detailed on the packaging. And on our part, we will keep you well informed of any new developments in time for next season’s onslaught.