July 4, 2022

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Slug pellets are outlawed from today… so gardeners are advised to kill them with BEER instead 

5 min read

They have been used against the slimy vandals of the vegetable patch since the 1940s.

But from today gardeners are banned from putting out slug pellets to tackle the pests.

Instead, they will have to rely on beer to kill the slugs that are targeting their prized vegetables and flowers.

Slug pellets contain metaldehyde, an organic compound that is toxic for slugs and other gastropods.

Metaldehyde slug pellets can no longer be sold or used in the UK because they can poison animals that eat the slugs, such as hedgehogs, birds and even dogs. 

Slug pellets can no longer be used or sold in the UK, as they can poison other animals like birds and dogs 

Recently slugs and snails were no longer classed as pests by the Royal Horticultural Society, as they help to recycle dead leaves and other plant matter

Recently slugs and snails were no longer classed as pests by the Royal Horticultural Society, as they help to recycle dead leaves and other plant matter

WHY ARE SLUG PELLETS BANNED? 

Government was advised by the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and the Health and Safety Executive that metaldehyde slug pellets pose an unacceptable risk to wilflife.

Metaldehyde is a contact poison that works to protect garden plants by damaging slug mucus cells and causing them to release excessive amounts of slime to the point they eventually dehydrate and die.

This dangerous chemical enters the food chain via slugs but can cause secondary poisoning of hedgehogs and birds.

So although the animals don’t consume the pellets directly, toxicity can build up as they consume slugs containing the substance. 

Source: hedgehogstreet.org

 

Experts from horticultural charity Garden Organic say that slugs’ love of lager makes the drink the tastiest way to trap them.

Slugs are 64 times more likely to be caught in a trap containing lager than water, an experiment by the charity found.

Bitter is 53 times more effective than water and the gastropods will go for any beer brand, researchers found. But they will reject other alcohol including red and white wines, Cava and cider.

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Garden Organic’s findings came from 166 citizen scientists sinking glasses containing the different drinks below the soil surface for its ‘slug pub’ research project.

‘Slugs love lager,’ said Emma O’Neill, the charity’s head gardener. 

‘Many gardeners know that slugs are confirmed lager louts and their love of this tipple can certainly distract them from your plants. The smell of lager and bitter really seems to attract them.’

The charity also suggests using copper tape to protect plants from slugs or luring them underneath an old roof tile with a piece of lettuce.

It recommends raised beds and containers to deter slugs, which tend to love munching hostas and delphiniums while leaving foxgloves and geraniums alone.

According to the Government, alternative methods of pest control also include cultural techniques like planting slug resistant crop varieties, selectively timing irrigation and harvest and sowing seeds more deeply into the soil. 

The Government was advised by the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides and the Health and Safety Executive that metaldehyde slug pellets pose an unacceptable risk to birds and mammals and a ban on their use was first announced by then Environment Secretary Michael Gove in 2018.

But the decision was successfully challenged in the High Court by slug pellet manufacturer Chiltern Farm Chemicals after the Government conceded its decision- making process had been flawed.

The smell of lager and bitter attracts slugs and can be used to trap them, as an alternative to slug pellets which have now been banned (stock photo)

The smell of lager and bitter attracts slugs and can be used to trap them, as an alternative to slug pellets which have now been banned (stock photo)

Announcing a new phased ban in September 2020, Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said: ‘The scientific evidence is clear – the risks metaldehyde poses to the environment and to wildlife are too great.’ 

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Eighteen months on, it is finally illegal to sell or use metaldehyde products in the UK.

Garden Organic chief executive Fiona Taylor said that the outright ban has been ‘a long time coming’. 

‘Metaldehyde pellets have long been recognised as posing an unacceptable risk to birds and mammals,’ she said.

‘There have been cases of dogs ingesting pellets, leading to sickness and even death.

‘Toxins can also find their way into rivers and freshwaters, posing wider harm to the environment and other wildlife.

‘We are pleased that the government has listened to safety and environment experts about the huge risks of this chemical, which far outweigh any benefits.

‘We hope this is the start of a range of measures which sees an end to the use of harmful pesticides.

‘If we care about wildlife and the future of our planet, we must make the positive move to organic, environmentally friendly methods for our gardens, allotments, balconies and pots.’  

SLUGS AND SNAILS WILL NO LONGER BE CLASSED AS PESTS! ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY LAUNCHES BID TO REVAMP THEIR REPUTATIONS

Slugs and snails will no longer be classed as pests by the Royal Horticultural Society, despite being the garden visitor the charity receives the most complaints about.

Instead, Britons should ‘gratefully accept’ the gastropods and see them as ‘helpers’ because they recycle dead leaves and other plant matter that would otherwise pile up.

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.

He said: ‘The RHS is all too aware of the role that gardens have in supporting biodiversity and as such will no longer label any garden wildlife as “pests”.

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‘Instead, there will be greater consideration of and focus on the role that slugs, aphids and caterpillars play in a balanced garden ecosystem along with more popular wildlife (or animals) such as birds, hedgehogs and frogs.’

When slugs attack plants, instead of killing them off, the RHS recommends planting a sacrificial species that slugs prefer to eat near any plants the gardener wants to protect.

The charity will also be trying to do ‘positive PR’ for slugs, aphids, ants and ladybirds, all of which have tended to be destroyed in gardens in recent decades, often due to advice from experts. 

Writing in the Guardian, Mr Salisbury added: ‘We are never going to eliminate slugs, aphids, caterpillars and other plant-munching invertebrates from our gardens — their existence after all predates the garden itself — and our plots are all the more lively and valuable because of them.

‘Amid the climate and biodiversity emergencies, now is the time to gracefully accept, even actively encourage, more of this life into our gardens.’ 

Each year the RHS releases a list of ‘top garden pests’ complained about by their members, but will now focus more on the threats to gardens posed by invasive species and climate change. 

The RHS in recent years has also called for gardeners to leave their grass unmown to help wildlife, and to leave patches of weeds.

The charity’s announcement is not the only boost that slugs and snails have had recently.

From April 1 this year, metaldehyde slug pellets will be banned from sale in the UK because they can poison birds and other animals who eat the slugs.

Gardeners are advised to use less toxic ferric phosphate pellets to control the creatures.   

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