Monday, 25 February 2008

British Gastropod Invasion

According to a recent newspaper article, last year slugs and snails were rated as Public Enemy Number One for Britain's gardeners.
Thanks to the wettest year on record, they well and truly multiplied and chomped their way through our flowers and plants at an alarming rate.
I didn't really need the papers to tell me that as I knew only too well that our garden had been full of the pests! The RHS says that the best way to get rid of them is to sink jars of beer into the earth and the gastropods die a wonderful death! However we think this is a waste of beer! Our garden ends with a high wall with plants and high shrubs growing up against it. Beyond this is a lane wide enough to take a single vehicle and the shops on the other side of the lane have access.
Even the youngest member of our family understands what de slugging is! We have a springy fly swatter that we keep outside our back door. The slugs and snails are then scooped up and catapulted over the back wall into the lane. They then have the chance of survival and if they do get run over by a van then that is tough! We usually catapult a few at a time so as not to arouse suspicion and the children enjoy collecting them in little heaps ready for take off!
A friend of mine says that they have a homing instinct and always make their way back. She told me she had read of an experiment where blobs of red paint were put on their shells before they were released some way off and many did make it back. I thought as much as I do seem to have a number of snails with cracked shells wandering about.
One of my neighbours gathers her snails into a bucket & gets her teenage lad to release them in the park, some distance away. Another takes a bucket of the pests to the nearest duck pond, where the ducks feed on them with relish! A rather cruel method was used by another friend with a pair of scissors! I at least give mine a chance!

One day after one of my snails flew over the wall, I heard a muffed scream as some one walked by and I crouched low behind the wall hoping that whoever had been scared of the flying missile would think a bird had dropped it!

Public Enemy Number Two was listed as the harlequin ladybird. This was branded the "most invasive ladybird on Earth!" by British scientists writing in the journal BioControl. Although the harlequins have been around for a while now, they are still not that common where we live and when I did eventually recognize one in the garden, Sam rushed to get his camera and took several pictures. In his haste he managed to knock the creature into a spiders web and although he tried to retrieve it, he managed to lose it. 
The photos turned out to be disappointing and the ladybird was only as big as a pinhead so couldn't be identified at all.

I wonder if these two pests will keep their place in the list of Public Enemies of Britain's Gardeners this year? Or will something even worse invade the sanctuary of our beloved havens of peace and tranquility, which is of course, the British garden. 


softinthehead said...

I loved the idea of raining slugs! and the thought of you crouched down behind the wall to avoid detection. Thanks for today's smile.

Robin said...

I really don't give our slugs a fighting chance. I put out a saucer of beer in the garden and the slugs crawl in it and die. Perhaps they die happy?

Sweet Irene said...

I don't have a true garden, only some little flowerbeds and not that many snails to evict. We did have many ladybirds congregate there in the fall for some reason and they were all sitting on the little ash berry trees.

Ladybirds are called "Our Dear Lord beasties" here in the Netherlands, which makes you like them better and not make you think they are a bug after all.

I don't do anything about the snails, as I am squeamish about doing anything to any living creature and I have no solution for them.

Luckily, our problem is very minor, but I can imagine that when you have a beautiful garden, and you see it being eaten up, you would want to rescue it. Leaving them dishes of beer seems to be the most humane thing to do. I think they would die a happy death.

I used to have a Basset Hound who loved beer and I would give her a small dish of it and she would become a little drunk and lay by my feet very happily.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

Thanks so much for adding me to your blogroll. You're now on mine, too!

Happy snailing!

Maggie May said...

softinthehead ....... its a bit different from "Raining men!"

robin ......... probably the kindest thing! I don't suppose that it is a really bad death, not that I would be willing to jump into a vat of beer to find out!

sweet Irene ..... well I suppose that anything from snails to basset hounds loves a saucer of beer!
Had to laugh at the beautiful garden bit! I'm looking out on quite a dreary patch at the moment! Must get out & do something with it.

rotten correspondent ........... thanks for that! Too cold to do much outside yet!

Jules said...

HI there!

Thanks for making me laugh!

Hey! I have a web site that you might like - not like you have enough to read or anything like that, right? I thought of you when I came across it.
Pictures of London at night -

Hope you enjoy them.

Just Because

the mother of this lot said...

If the slugs in our garden can manage to find their way to the plants over the discarded bikes and dolls prams, good luck to them!

I've left you an award - sorry, I know it stresses you out!

CrazyCath said...

I have an aversion to the brown/green slimy sort I find where I live now. In Northumberland, they were shiny black smart looking slugs. They were ok.

Here, I have no qualms. Can't bear to pick them up or let them drink. disgusting snot coloured things. Salt is wonderful. Frazzles 'em.

Sorry. It's the masochistic side of me. ;-)

CrazyCath said...

Or should that be sadistic?

Probably both. Time for bed...

Dusty Spider said...

Thanks for the wonderful mental picture of the slugs raining in the lane! Actually got the grass cut today. I love the spring and it's almost almost here! Flick x

Expatmum said...

My mother traumatised my kids last year by pouring salt on all the slugs in her garden. Horrible. They didn't even know what they were as we don't seem to get them here in Chicago, thank goodness. I suspect it's either too hot or too cold.

Maggie May said...

Jules .... glad you had a laugh ....... Will check your url when I can get Sam to help me to get it to work! So far have not been able to. I am useless with anything different!

Mother of this lot! ... Gee thanks ..... another thing on the list of things Sam has to help me with!

Crazy Cath ....... I don't like to touch the slugs but can easily put them on the fly swatter with the help of a little stick! Salt seems very cruel & is the equivalent to us being doused with acid (I should think!) I once experimented with salt once , as a child!

Maggie May said...

Dusty Spider ...... I have no grass to cut in my tiny garden! all paths, patio & borders, shrubs & plants. Easy to maintain but the s& snails love the environment!

Expatmum ...... As I said before, that is quite cruel! Was amazed to hear that you don't have them in Chicago!

Every one in England! ........ Did you experience the EARTHQUAKE? One a.m. I was wakened suddenly & was very dizzy. Thought I was having a vertigo attack!
I got a repeat performance (smaller) at 5 a.m. when the radio said we had suffered an aftershock! We do not expect this in England. 5.3 on the Rick.Thingummy!

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