Why there are So Many Slugs

Several field slugs eating a cabbage leaf

  Field Slugs  (Derocereas reticulatum)

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that each new year brings with it ever greater numbers of these marauding molluscs.

Slug capital of the world

With relatively cool damp summers and warmish mild wet winters, Britain provides the ideal conditions for slugs to thrive. And recent climate change has turned our little island into slug paradise!

Milder winters

Winters were cold and icy and killed off many slugs, leaving the remainder to seek refuge deep underground. Now milder conditions allow them to stay active on the surface for much of the year. Unlike snails, slugs don’t hibernate during winter. They stay active whenever the weather is warm enough; above 5°C.

Reproduction occurs mainly during autumn and spring, so these milder winters offer a more favourable breeding season, with the eggs standing a far better chance of survival.

Timely tip

Keep soil turned throughout winter. This allows frosts to break it down ready for spring planting and exposes the small clusters of slug eggs to the elements...  and to visiting wildlife.

Cooler summers

Slugs hate long hot summers; the hot sun dries them out, the hard ground is difficult to negotiate. Burrowing deep below ground in search of the cool moist conditions needed for survival puts them further away from your treasured flowers and vegetables!

But summers are getting cooler and wetter, allowing slugs to be more active and destructive above ground. These conditions also create abundant lush growth, offering plenty of food, and convenient shelter during the hotter days.

Handy hint

Keep your garden free from weeds and dense undergrowth, and remove garden debris. This deprives the slug of many daytime shelters.

Copper slug tape

A 4m roll of self adhesive copper tape, with a serrated edge for greater effect. As the slug attempts to cross this barrier, a chemical reaction with its slime produces a small electric shock, enough to persuade it to seek a less well defended dinner.

Commonly used around containers, I think copper tape also adds a touch of class to an otherwise ordinary pot. It can also be used around raised beds, greenhouse staging, cold-frames; when you think about it, the possibilities are endless.

Copper slug tape
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Did you

When a slug loses one of its sensory tentacles it grows another, usually within a few months

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