The society told Britons it was a shame slugs – along with snails – have a “bad reputation”. It has received more complaints about these creatures – traditionally considered garden menaces – than any others. But the RHS has insisted slugs and snails should instead by viewed as more helpful and welcome “garden visitors”.
Dr Andrew Salisbury, Principal Entomologist at the RHS, said slugs have seemly been misunderstood, and actually do far more good for our gardens than bad.
He wrote in the Guardian that only nine of the 4 species we know of are likely to nibble holes in plants.
Dr Salisbury accepted some do damage plants.
But, he noted: “The fact that they are also an important part of the garden and that it is undesirable to remove them all means more research is needed to identify which species are causing damage, and the practical and ethical ways of deterring and mitigating it – something we are researching at the RHS.
“We already know, for instance, that using biological control nematodes and mulch can help reduce slug damage.”
He added that the existence of slugs and snails “predates the garden itself – and our plots are all the more lively and valuable because of them”.
Even the plant-nibbling species are, in the RHS’s opinion, given a bit too much negative press.
The benefits they bring should shift this perception, it said.
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“Due to the shape of their mouth parts, the trail of consumption through algal patches forms a geometric zigzag pattern – the garden’s very own version of a crop circle.”
There was – as is to be expected – a miked response to the society’s message on social media.
Twitter user Kevin Barry celebrated the shift in tone, noting: “At last – and not before time.”
Sara R added: “An important message.
“Now more than ever we all need to work with nature to protect the health of the planet and ourselves.”
Becca, on the other hand, joked: “I’d be happy for slimers to inhabit the garden, but it seems that I have the nine species which prefer fresh plants to hoovering up the fallen foliage.”