Garden Bugs – Good and Bad

Dr Ian Bedford – Head of Entomology at the John Innes Centre in Norfolk was our Club’s Guest Speaker in October.

Ironically his planned computerised talk “got a bug” so “Plan B” was put into operation and members were told about “Garden Bugs – Good and Bad”!! After explaining his job and showing how the facilities have changed from a “large tin shed” to modern, up-to-date laboratory facilities members were shown the life cycle, habits both good and bad, and told what could be done to either encourage or discourage them from our gardens.

At the moment a great deal of work is being undertaken to understand and control many “foreign invaders” which have been brought into the country in the soil of or on the leaves of imported plants or have “moved” here with the warmer climate we are experiencing.

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As slugs should have been his main topic he ended his talk telling members about “The Invasion of Spanish Slugs!”. The sight of vast number of these slugs, up to 4ins long, left everyone squirming in their seats.

Dr Bedford explained that the normal animal control (hedgehogs, frogs etc.) do not find them a delicacy and it can take up to 20 conventional slug pellets to kill one of them and with chemicals being discouraged he explained that the JIC is looking into other ways to control them.

As the slug’s ways of protecting itself is to produce vast amounts of slime they way he is dealing with them in his garden is to put soapy water into a buckets, collect them, then overnight pour a little bleach into the bucket and the next day bury them at least 18ins deep.

Photographs of fields of crops decimated in days by these slugs were shown – and although it is a “love/hate” crop – oil seed rape may not been seen in our fields along with many other vegetable crops unless a deterrent is found.

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