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.