Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Slugs to thrive after wet spell

There is likely to be an unusually large number of slugs around this year, the RHS has said

The warmer weather is set to bring a rush of colour to gardens - but also an invasion of slugs, experts have warned.

Spring has been held back by the cold conditions but now longer days and rising temperatures are bringing out blooms from magnolias and flowering cherries to tulips, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said.

However, after last year's washout summer provided perfect conditions for slugs, there is also likely to be an unusually large number around this year, RHS chief horticultural adviser Guy Barter said.

"Last year slugs had a field day. Slugs wander around on a trail of slime and can't stand dryness. It set in to rain last April and carried on raining throughout the breeding time for slugs," he said.

As a result, slugs had a booming breeding year last year, and although they will have had a "thin time" of it in winter, when there is little to eat, many will still have survived. "There were so many slugs, an unusually large number are bound to have survived," he said.

So gardeners should expect to find the warmer weather brings out the slugs, along with the blooms, especially if it is a showery April, which will provide perfect conditions for the pests.

The RHS recommends various ways of tackling the invasion, including using nematodes, microscopic worms which can be watered over the garden, where they infect the slugs and kill them.

And while spring may be very late this year, the RHS said there was still time to catch up on jobs during this week's National Gardening Week, in order to have a great-looking garden later in the summer - if the weather allows.

Mr Barter added: "Now the temperature's up, the plants will be able to take a chance and put their flowers out, and brave whatever the elements throw at them."

Gardeners can get to work clearing away old beds and borders to make room for new plants, feeding and re-potting plants and planting hardy bedding plants such as primroses, pansies and primulas to keep up the colour going until the summer.

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