The gardening world is abuzz with the news that as of the 30th of June 2019, metaldehyde slug pellets are illegal to sell and trade.
What are metaldehyde slug pellets?
The typically green/blue slug pellet has been a staple in gardens since I was small — I remember asking my Mum what they were when she used them, and I don’t recall ever really seeing a garden that didn’t utilise the slug repellent. All you did was sprinkle them onto soil and voila! Slugs wouldn’t ravage your plants.
Sadly, it’s only now that we realise the true impact of these timesaving, slug-slaying repellents.
Why are they now banned from sale or trade?
DEFRA have explained the ban in their official news release: “The decision to prohibit the use of metaldehyde, except in permanent greenhouses, follows advice from the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that metaldehyde poses an unacceptable risk to birds and mammals.”
Once in your gardens ecosystem, the damage that these pellets cause is devastating. You put the pellets down to kill the slugs. Hedgehogs, foxes, birds — they eat the slugs. Those birds and mammals then die from the same poisons used to kill the slugs. It’s a horrible chain of events that is inescapable once you use Metaldehyde slug pellets.
Is it illegal to use them in your garden?
No. Not yet.
As of Spring 2020, metaldehyde slug pellets will be prohibited from outdoor use across all areas, except permanent greenhouse structures.
DEFRA explain the phasing out of these products in their statement: “The outdoor use of metaldehyde will be phased out over 18 months to give growers time to adjust to other methods of slug control. It will be legal to sell metaldehyde products for outdoor use for the next six months, with use of the products then allowed for a further 12 months.”
What’s the most effective, organic slug control?
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Nematodes* are going to be my weapon of choice in the fight against the slug.
Nematodes* are microscopic parasitic worms which feed on molluscs. You add an amount to water and feed it directly to the soil around your plants, and the worm does the rest. The details are a little bit grim, but it basically releases a bacteria inside an insect that prays on it, killing said insect within 48 hours.
Stock photographs in this post are from Pixabay.com!