Slugs set to be a problem says Britain's biggest garden centre chain

Wyevale Garden Centres is launching a #slugrage campaign - but slug expert Dr Ian Bedford says activity is low so far this season.

Wyevale said UK gardeners "should be well prepared to protect their plants and prized vegetables from a rampage of ravenous slugs" citing "another mild winter and the recent warm and moist weather".

Their "slug survival kit" includes two Neudorff Sluggo slug and snail killer products.

Wyevale launched a similar slug product campaign last year.

Bedford, head of the Entomology at the John Innes Centre, said: "We're hardly finding any. My commercial contacts are not having an issue either. In my own garden there is hardly any slug activity at all.

"Some people doing a commercial trial in Yorkshire have had no results because there are no slugs."

Bedford said after the mildish winter juveniles should have survived and eggs should be hatching early.

He suggested the dryish autumn might have meant slugs did not lay as many eggs as usual.

Bedford said an environmental factor, probably the weather, was the cause of the lack of slug activity.

Deep frosts in the winter kill them, while they prefer a damp environment. Bedford said there were certainly not more predators such as hedgehogs and thrushes.

He said there were new products such as Zlug, an olive-pomace-based product endorsed by Songbird Survival on the market. Also out in new forms is SB Plant Invigorator, been sold under various names, a soap-based pest controller. Essential oil (other than citronella)-based repellents from Biobarrier products are also coming on the market.

Charity BugLife says there is a 'bumper year ahead' and a 'slime wave' of slugs, with an additional 80 billion slugs to make 500bn resulting from this year's breeding behaviour. 

The Crop Protection Association's Common Sense Gardening Group has warned thatslug pellets need to be applied carefully. Chair Gary Philpotts said: "Gardeners should always try and encourage natural predators." He added that gardeners should read the label carefully, avoiding over appliation and only applying slug pellets thinly around plants that need to be protected.

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