Slugging it out

Slugging it out
    It's a question that probably has a similar answer to 'how long is a piece of string?', but do you know how many slugs and snails there are in your garden?

Have you ever tried to count? It seems like a pretty pointless exercise – yet that's exactly what a new initiative led by Bayer Animal Health is asking us to do.

The Big Snail Count will kick off the year-long Act On Lungworm campaign, which is aiming to raise awareness of the threats to pets in the garden and how owners can stop their dogs from coming into contact with the lungworm parasite.

Of course, slugs and snails are dangerous to animals in this way as predators can become infected if their prey is carrying the lungworm larvae – something that these garden pests are prone to do.

As a result, this nationwide activity is encouraging people to log the prevalence, location and activities of the slimy critters as they take part in a mass survey across the country's gardens and parks.

The bane of the garden

Slugs and snails have been the natural enemy of the gardener for generations – but its not because of their lungworm-carrying trait.

If left uncontrolled, slugs can destroy almost anything leafy in their path, putting an end to months of hard work in a matter of hours.

They are most active at night and on foggy or cloudy days, while you will also notice them turning out in their masses during or just after wet weather.

When it's sunny, you are less likely to encounter them, however, you may still notice the tell-tale sign of a slime trail to alert you that you probably need to take action to stop them from ravaging your pride and joy.

How can I stop slugs in my garden?

There is a range of crazy hypotheses over what is the best method to keep your garden a slug-free zone, with some of the wackiest including:

  • Beer
  • Bran Flakes
  • Coffee

While there are varied theories behind how each of these approaches work, the results are often mixed and can sometimes be more hassle than they are worth.

If you're not a fan of using pellets – which, if you've got a pet that's likely to also pick them up, is understandable – then an eco-friendly approach could be to try to attract some of the slug's natural predators.

For example, introducing a pond into your garden layout will make your area a popular venue for frogs and toads, while fruit or berry-bearing plants will bring in birds – both of which love to chow down on a bit of slug.

Another suggestion is to raise your beds – the idea being that your soil dries out quicker after its been raining, so your garden seems less attractive to slugs after a downpour.

Although some of these answers may seem a little extreme to provide an answer to your slug problem, it's always good to know you have a backup plan if the traditional solutions are failing you.

By the way, according to the Daily Mail, there is an average of 20,000 slugs in every UK garden – happy counting!

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