How Big a Problem for Gardeners Are Slugs and Snails?

A typical British garden contains around 20,000 slugs and snails (a cubic meter of soil can house 200 slugs).
A typical British garden contains around 20,000 slugs and snails (a cubic meter of soil can house 200 slugs).

If climate change continues to alter life on Earth, the world’s pests may stop hibernating and keep bugging us all year long, and in greater numbers. In the United Kingdom, for example, slugs are a fact of life for the nation’s gardeners. The average British garden can contain as many as 20,000 slugs and snails. One cubic meter of soil can be home to 200 of these slimy critters, all of which are a threat to the plants that gardeners want to grow.

In recent years, when temperatures in many places remain above 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) throughout the year, these gastropods will continue to eat and breed, helping their numbers explode. The other phenomenon bedeviling UK gardeners: Slugs have fewer and fewer predators, such as amphibians, rodents and birds.

Some snugs and snails snippets:

  • Slugs and snails do have a vital role in the environment. In addition to destroying healthy plants – they can consume more than 500 varieties of vegetation – most slugs dispose of decomposing plant matter.

  • Strong-smelling plants and plants with hairy stems tend to repel snails and slugs. To deter them, plant lavender, rosemary, cranebills or herbaceous plants.

  • Another way to make them feel unwelcome is to add wood chips, gravel or crushed eggshells around your plants. Gastropods get going when the going gets rough.

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    • A typical British garden contains around 20,000 slugs and snails (a cubic meter of soil can house 200 slugs).
      A typical British garden contains around 20,000 slugs and snails (a cubic meter of soil can house 200 slugs).