Talking rot

Amateur Gardening|May 30, 2020

Talking rot
Not all slugs are baddies, says Val, as she explains how some clear up rotting and diseased vegetable matter
Val Bourne

WHEN I began looking at the living things in my gardens, more than 25 years ago, I invested in lots of standard texts about beetles, bees, butterflies, slugs, birds and ladybirds. I wasn’t an entomologist, a naturalist or a scientist, but I wanted to know what these creatures did in my garden. Often the books were about collecting and dissecting these creatures, in order to categorise them into separate species.

One Rothamsted Research scientist, Dr H.F. Barnes, had the perfect opportunity to do some first-hand observation when he was an air-raid warden in the Second World War in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. When nights were warm and damp, Dr Barnes looked at slugs in ordinary suburban gardens. He shone his torch on the ground and walked for 30 minutes, collecting and identifying the slugs he found. He identified 100,000 slugs in 50 gardens in the Moreton End area while on patrol.

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May 30, 2020