Britain’s gardeners should brace themselves as a combination of weather factors will bring a slime wave of 500 billion -SLUGS.
Experts say a mild winter with no or little frost plus a warm start to spring will see a boom in the population of the molluscs.
Last year there were around 420 billion slugs born in Britain – but this year that figure will be more like 500 billion.
It follows another winter with above-average recorded temperatures which experts are predicting will bring an ‘explosion’ of slugs over the coming weeks.
Jude Beherall of weed feed and control brand Neudorff. said: “A mild winter with minimal frosts will produce a glut of slug eggs and, once hatched, these young slugs will be looking to feed their ferocious appetites and will head straight for the tender foliage of young plants.
“We are advising gardeners to be fully prepared with slug controls at the ready to ensure their hard work in the garden is preserved.”
Average recorded temperatures for winter 2016/2017 in the UK were a mild 5.0 degrees C – the temperature at which slugs usually come out of hibernation.
However thanks to the weather, conservation charity BugLife say slugs have remained active throughout the winter – meaning a “bumper year”.
“Last year’s wet but very mild conditions means unfortunately we’re in for more of the same,” said Paul Hetherington of BugLife.
“The conditions were perfect for slugs to remain active for a longer period, meaning they were eating more and breeding faster and as a result the little ones were maturing at a quicker rate.”
He also added that the continuing decline of natural predators such as hedgehogs, birds and beetles are helping the slug population to swell.
And BugLife encourage gardeners to avoid using poisonous pellets as a way of ridding their gardens of slugs, as this is believed to be contributing to the decline of these predators.
“There are a number of more natural ways to get rid of slugs that do not also involve killing animals all the way up the food chain,” said Mr Hetherington.
The charity recommends the use of copper tape or sacrificial plants as a more natural way of repelling slugs.
“I use fuschias in my own garden – slugs hate fuschias, so it’s a good idea to plant them surrounding plants that slugs usually destroy, like hostas,” he said.
Entomology experts also recommend drowning them with a bucket of soapy water.