Volunteers wanted to monitor Britain’s slugs

Volunteers are being asked to help with the first survey in decades of Britain’s slug populations.

To take part, all that’s required is curiosity, a garden, and a willingness to go out after dark to search for slugs.

The year-long research project will identify different slug species and the features that tempt them into gardens.

The last study conducted in English gardens was in the 1940’s and this found high numbers of just nine species of slug. However, many more have arrived in recent years, including the Spanish slug, which is thought to have come in on salad leaves. Less than half of the UK’s 40 or more slug species are now considered native.

Helping with the survey

Research assistant, Imogen Cavadino, who is leading the study by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and Newcastle University, said people will be surprised by the variety of slug species that can be found.  However, volunteers don’t need any specialist knowledge, just access to a garden and an interest in learning more about slugs. The specimens will be posted to the RHS for analysis, as the species are difficult to identify from photographs.

“This information is going to be really important in informing us as to which slugs are most common in gardens and what time of year they’re most abundant,” said Imogen.

“With what we know about slug feeding behaviour we can then use this to understand better which species are likely to be causing problems in gardens and what time of year they’re most likely to be around doing the damage to plants.”

Slugs are likely to become more active in spring, when the weather gets warmer. Recyclers and composters of garden waste, they form an important part of the ecosystem, supporting birds, frogs and hedgehogs.

Researchers will train up to 60 people to hunt for slugs which will involve them going out at night with a torch, once a month for 30 minutes

If you would like to get involved please visit the RHS website. Applications close at 9:00 am on 2 March 2020 and you should be notified within one month.

The study will not take place in Northern Ireland owing to the differing flora and fauna on the island of Ireland.

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