Problems with Slugs and Snails?
We are trying to encourage people to be as environmentally friendly on our allotments as possible, and therefore trying to promote alternative ways of dealing with slugs and snails. The common treatment in the past has been the use of blue pellets containing metaldehyde. These have always been very effective. However there are serious side effects in using this treatment, and since 2019 the government has been trying to introduce a law to ban it, even on farms.
The main issue is that these pellets have chemical attractants in them to make the slugs eat them. However it has been discovered that many other animals are attracted to the pellets as well, including hedgehogs, which of course eat the slugs as part of their diet! Song thrushes tend to eat the half poisoned slugs too, and they are very effective at eating the snails that cause so much damage to our vegetables. Dogs and cats also eat the scattered metaldehyde pellets, attracted by their taste. Finally they are also very poisonous to us too even in small amounts, and can be absorbed through our skin. If they are swallowed they can cause death by kidney or lung failure. These pellets are likely to be banned by the end of next year.
Successful alternatives to metaldehyde?
There are new pellets that are available from garden centres, and our allotment shop, that are nearly as effective, but do not have these serious effects on wildlife. There are many other creative ways to keep slug and snail numbers down, including using beer traps. Removing dead weeds away from growing areas and keeping the edges of beds mown, also discourages slugs and snails, as they prefer overgrown damp areas to live in.
Slugs and snails are always going to be a problem for us gardeners. However please be mindful of alternative methods of dealing with them in the future, and be considerate of our hedgehogs, thrushes etc….. even when our lettuces have been annihilated!