Slug watch wants you

Slug watch wants you

Scientists want your help with tracking the spread of a slug threatening to eat its way through British gardens and crops.

The Spanish slug is a voracious eater that survives many slug pellets, eats crops spared by our native slugs, tolerates drier conditions, reproduces in greater numbers and even eats dead animals and excrement.


You can help by simply recording and photographing findings on the “Slug Watch” website. As well as checking under logs and plant pots in your garden,you can follow instructions to build a slug trap.

The Spanish slug was first reported in the UK in January of this year by Dr Ian Bedford, head of entomology at the John Innes Centre. During the long winter, many disappeared underground or died, but the eggs survived and the species may have returned in greater numbers.

“We want photos and sightings from members of the public to help build a picture of how widespread the Spanish slug has become,” said Dr Bedford.

“The reports may also give us an idea of whether it is breeding with our nativespecies to form a hybrid combining the worst of the Spanish slug with tolerance to frosts and cold from our own species.”

According to Velcourt technical director Keith Norman, farmers are using up their entire allowance of slug pellets early in the season leaving no other means of control.

“This is a disaster waiting to happen if the Spanish slug proliferates and establishes itself in the UK,” said Norman.

Spanish Slug on Tomato

“The Spanish slug causes more eating damage and cannot be cotrolled with existing measures.”

Slugs do play an important role in the ecosystem. They are natural composters, breaking down vegetation, and provide food for our hedgehogs, toads and some garden birds.

There are 30 native species in the UK, four of which are classed as pests. They are the netted or grey field slug, the garden slug, the keeled slug and the large black slug.

“We hope that as well as helping with research into the Spanish slug, people will learn a bit about the biology of these molluscs,” said Dr Bedford.

“You never know, we may even help inspire someone to become a malacologist in the future.”

The material for the website was designed and written by Norwich A level student Rachel Ayers during a Nuffield research placement. Her favourite slug became the chestnut slug after she discovered how fast it can move while trying to photograph it.


Norwich based A-Level student Rachel Ayers, and the slug that became her favourite, the Chestnut Slug

Norwich based A-Level student Rachel Ayers, and the slug that became her favourite, the Chestnut Slug


The JIC entomology facility is supported by core funding from the BBSRC.

SlugWatch website:

Follow the project on Twitter: @SlugWatch

Some of the coverage: The Observer, The Mail Online, Metro, BBC online, ITV AngliaMirror, BBC Breakfast, Daily Express, The Telegram (Canada)

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34 Responses to “Slug watch wants you”

  1. I live in sudbury and I found three of these slugs on top of my wheelie bin I didn’t know anything about them as nothing had then been on the news. I brushed them onto the floor and went to see if they were still there later but they had gone.

  2. We found one of these in the preschool I work at, the children found it under a log, the children thought it was quite pretty.this was the week before last I think.

  3. We live in wisbech & had quite a few of these slugs in our garden.They were orange & huge.They were soooo disgusting we put slug bait down to kill them off & havent seen any since….

  4. I have had lots of these large slugs in my garden for years near Southend on Sea, Essex. Only the other day I moved my water-butt and there were 6 of them. I moved from Wisbech years ago and don’t ever remember seeing any in our garden there. So I thought they were an Essex / southern slug – I used slug bait but it didn’t seem to work.

  5. We have just re-located to Worcester and have a lot of these in the garden..Very sizable as well!

  6. I live in Lowestoft and have found several of these slugs in my garden during the summer.
    I also found a few last year. I do not kill anything so I took them to an over-grown field nearby and put them in the long grass.

  7. I’m from duxford i’ve had around ten of these nasty slugs in my garden this year, i use beer traps or salt them, not keen on slug pellets cause if birds eat the slugs it kills the birds.

  8. I live in Milborne st Andrew, Blandford. Dorset.I have lots of the large slugs with orange base.They eat my rhubarb leaves.I send them flying into my neighbours garden.

  9. you can kill slugs without the pellets just use salt it kills on contact

  10. Loads of these big slimey horrors in my garden. The birds are not eating them, so I use salt too ! I am in West Sussex.

  11. I’m in west wilts just found one of these nasty big slugs in my garden.

  12. I’m in Milford Haven, West Wales.We have a lot of the Spanish Slugs with an orange ‘skirt’ in our garden.
    We didn’t know what they were until seeing them on TV this morning.
    They have feasted on lettuce, parsley and one appears to be eating a passion flower leaf. Our cabbages were well nibbled this year too but I didn’t actually see them.
    We have a photo taken on 19.10.13 but no facility to upload on this page.

    • When my youngest was 3 mnoths old we went camping and I got kidney stones and it rained on us for 2 days. I have hated camping ever since. The trailer, completely changed my mind about camping and I enjoyed it when we went.

    • We need more insights like this in this thread.

  13. We found one of the spanish slugs on our windowsill on Tues 15th Oct We live in the Coalville area in Leicester, we dispatched it

  14. We have had loads of these in the garden this year and I killed then with slug pellets.We are in the colchester area

  15. I live in Essex and there was one of these slugs on my drive!

  16. I am in Manor park East London and find these slugs very often in my little patch. I took a picture of one, on my little rock corner. It turned out to be dead. I find them behind some of the old bricks and under flower pots whenever I go slug/snail hunting. They end up in the snail bucket which has a generous helping of salt to send them to oblivion.

  17. I live in Suffolk Coastal region, and we found just one of these slugs along our garden path…put it in a jam jar with leaves until we could photograph it and get it checked and looks like it is a Spanish one….today there are eggs in the jam jar as well! So…it is going nowhere! We are looking out for others…

  18. And…beware of slugs if you have pets as slugs can carry lungworm and pass it on to animals in the garden – or anywhere your dog runs free…a very nasty disease!!

  19. there was one at the rugby club i work at last saturday 19th and i have seen a few in my garden Truro Cornwall (they dont like salt tho)

  20. I’ve seen these around for years too.
    I’ve lived here for 5 years and before that in South Glos. they were there too but grew bigger I thought.
    I always thought they were endemic but obviously not.
    Salt is a lovely slow death for them but emptying used teabags around your best plants makes them swerve off and leave a thick trail of slime. most satisfying!

    • That is so exciting your are pnangert! Looks like you have a wonderful little family to keep you on your feet and to keep you loving life! I love the little downward facing dog pic! Too cute!

  21. Over the past few years I have seen hundreds of these huge, orangey slugs both in my garden and the surrounding area. In fact, last year ,around dusk, my grand daughter collected about 50 from quite a small front lawn. There seem to have been fewer this year but even so we still see more of them than the regular ‘British’ slugs.

  22. i seem to have loads of these revolting creatures in my garden , they seem to eat everything and have found them in my fruit trees on the fruit , i live in peterborough , nothing seems to kill them off

  23. We had loads if large greenish slugs with dark lines on them all dispatched, not using pellets…..dont ask how!

  24. I read on one site that slugwatch uk can supply identification cards. Can you please give me details of how to obtain them. Countryfile recently covered this invasion on their Sunday night tv programme but did not show a close up long enough to commit to memory the details of this new alien.

    Many thanks

  25. If my slug pictures are of help to the a research team where can i send them?

  26. I have found loads of these slugs in my garden. How do i get ride of them?

  27. I meant to say that i live in Wickhambriik Suffolk. I have got loads of them. how can i get shot of them.

  28. Until a year ago had an allotment in eaton bray Bedfordshire and there where dozens of these slugs everywhere

  29. What a neat arclite. I had no inkling.