Slugs and snails munch their way back as top pests

 

A A A

Slugs and snails have regained their crown as the most pesky pests to munch a destructive path through Britain's gardens. Having been toppled from their customary first place in 2010 by the viburnum beetle, they slithered back to the top of the list in 2011 as the pest gardeners most love to loathe.

Despite many areas being drier than usual the slimy gastropods were so numerous that they prompted more desperate gardeners to call the Royal Horticultural Society for advice on how to stop them making a meal of prized flowers, fruit and vegetables than any other pest.

"They have a good year most years," said Andrew Halstead, the chief entymologist at the RHS. "Most gardens have them, often in large numbers, and they feed on a wide range of plants. You're never ever going to get rid of them. The best you can achieve is to reduce the damage."

But they are increasingly being challenged by a host of introduced pests, and others that are spreading because of warmer conditions.

Among the challengers is the fuchsia gall mite, a tiny eight-legged creature just a quarter of a millimetre long. It specialises in sucking the sap of fuchsias and causes extensive damage.

The mite was first recorded in Britain in 2007 and early last year the RHS was hopeful it could be eradicated, but it spread through southern England so rapidly that it is now the sixth most troublesome garden pest.

The leek moth, in equal eighth place, is also expected to spread rapidly in the future because of warmer temperatures, and together with the allium leaf miner, which is still outside the top 20 but rising fast, could cause mayhem in vegetable patches.

They both attack leeks and onions. The moth is spreading northwards from the south of England and Wales while the leaf miner is spreading in all directions from the Midlands, with no suitable pesticide yet developed for gardens and allotments.

Cushion scale, a sap sucking insect that turns evergreens black, was the second most troublesome pest of 2011 and another that has become more common in recent years.

Harlequin ladybirds, despite becoming more common, fell out of the list of top 10 pests. It is thought that gardeners are becoming familiar with them and so do not need to call for advice.

Top 5 Garden Pests

1. Slugs and snails

Eat a huge range of plants, especially hostas, potato tubers and narcissus.

2. Cushion scale

Sap-sucking insect that attacks holly, rhododendron and other evergreens. Causes a sooty mould to build up on leaves during winter.

3. Vine weevils

The adults attack the leaves of a wide range of plants; the larvae eat the roots.

4. Ants

Several species are found in the UK and they upset gardeners by dumping piles of soil on lawns.

5. Viburnum beetle

The number one pest in 2010. They primarily attack viburnum with the larvae reducing leaves to lacework.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions