Volunteers Needed to Look for Slugs So We Know How Many of the Buggers There Are

By Shabana Arif on at

No, this isn't to keep a note of their ranks so that we're prepared should they ever sprout legs and declare war on salt.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and Newcastle University just want to keep tabs on our slimy friends, as the last time we had any official idea of what they were up to was in 1940, when the country was home to just nine species. That number has ballooned in recent years to over 40, and despite sneaking onto our island via such nefarious means as hitching a ride on salad leaves, just under half of those species are currently considered to be native to the UK.

The year-long study aims to ID the plethora of slug species littering our gardens, like soggy little turds. To participate, you should probably avoid describing them as "soggy" or "turds" for a start, and instead, grab a torch and go galumphing about at night for a 30 minute sesh once a month to see what you can ferret out. A minimum of 60 volunteers are needed, and they'll be trained in all things gastropod - the ones that aren't lugging a shell around on their backs, specifically.

"This information is going to be really important in informing us as to which slugs are most common in gardens and what time of year they're most abundant," said research assistant, Imogen Cavadino. "With what we know about slug feeding behaviour we can then use this to understand better which species are likely to be causing problems in gardens and what time of year they're most likely to be around doing the damage to plants."

According to Cavadino, the twilight hours are when you can expect to see the widest variety of slugs, in "all sorts of different colours and sizes and types." Bleugh. Bear in mind, volunteers may need to kidnap the slugs from their natural habitat and send them to the scientists involved in the study. I'm not sure if the slugs are dead or alive at this point, or what the delivery method is, but if the thought of nocturnal slug-watching sparks your interest, you can apply here.

Feature image credit: Unsplash