'Sleepless slugs' skip hibernation to breed after warm British winter

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 29, 2016 8:07 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - British gardeners should brace themselves for an invasion of slugs this year as many of the pests skipped their usual hibernation due to a warm winter and spent their time breeding instead.

"They usually go into a hibernation in winter but due to this very warm winter they have not. So what else do slugs do? They breed and they eat," said Paul Hetherington, a spokesman for BugLife, a conservation charity.

"So there is a high likelihood that we are going to see a slug explosion given that many of their predators are in decline," said Hetherington by telephone.

After the BBC said the average British garden usually has as many as 20,000 slugs, Hetherington cautioned that they should not be viewed as enemies by gardeners.

"The vast majority of slugs and snails feed on dead or rotting vegetation so I wouldn't call them the gardener's pest," said Hetherington. "They get a bad press."

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison)