Garden Blog

A blog about gardening generally plus a few personal views and moans

Slugs and Snails are no longer garden pests - not in my books!

Slugs and Snails are no longer garden pests - not in my books!

Slug RHS wisley

Hosta foliage damaged by slugs or snails at a well-known educational garden in Surry!

The RHS has stated its number one pest according to its members is no longer a pest. I simply cannot believe that slugs and snails are not any longer, according to them, garden pests. The RHS has this week confirmed them as part of the garden wildlife we are supposed to encompass under their new plans, entitled Gardening in a changing climate, for us gardeners.

Research by the RHS suggests the slimy marauders are actually misunderstood, because only nine of the 44 recognised species of slug in the UK eat garden plants. They 'play an important role in planet friendly gardening and maintaining a healthy ecosystem', according to the charity's principal entomologist, Andrew Salisbury, and are also a food source for hedgehogs and birds. According to a leading wild bird food supplier, slugs and snails are the bottom of a bird's dietary list, only feeding on them when other food is short. Wonder who is right?

But what the statement in the national press does not say is that there are many times the numbers of the green vegetation eating species number wise than there are of the carnivorous species or those who feed on decomposing matter. Let's keep it in perspective.

In our own garden, we have seen numerous plants lost over the years to slugs and snails, some of them very rare in cultivation. I have tried many legal but not very effective organic remedies and there are few commercial products such as Grazers Slug control which I find if applied as recommended does work. Much can be done by choosing more slug resistant plants. Should we be giving up on good plants just because they are the slugs favourite meal - I think not, especially if they are food crops? Last year, a sowing of three varieties of carrots was wiped out by snails just as they emerged - result, no food. Are gardeners prepared to put up with this, I very much doubt it.

Slugs salt

We must not use salt or any other material not approved to kill pests generally

Are there good safe legal viable alternatives?  There are cultural ways, such as timing of sowing or planting, deterrents that slugs or snails cannot cross easily.  We certainly shouldn't be putting down tons of salt all over the country to kill them - and yes, some of them do eat other slugs and snail along with what I regard as garden pests.

What the RHS should have been doing is their very job - educating us how to control the pest species as environmentally as possible while still having healthy plants and clean food crops, and at the same time encouraging us to recognise and help the carnivorous species. In their big plan on climate change and our gardens the RHS must accept if we follow their plans our gardens and very importantly to our plants will change forever, many of our cherished and loved garden favourites will disappear forever in favour of native weeds.

Slugs hens

Good organic way of controlling slugs and snails, but it is not vegetarian species specific ducks and hens will eat all species

Sadly, this is just another step in the move that is so altering our world, moving us away from common sense logic thinking to everything is your friend, sorry the vegetarian slugs and snails will never be my friends and I will do everything possible to keep their numbers as low as possible. I never want to kill every single slug or snail out there (remember, there are millions in our gardens). You have to have some to keep the balance of nature and the wildlife chain supplied with food. The word I used is balance and to me saying the slugs and snails are not pests is getting the balance wrong.


Image is designed and maintained by Darren Hodson © 2022, The Drurys