The Royal Horticultural Society will no longer classify slugs and snails as pests. Sometimes slugs and snails get a bad rep as a risk to gardens, but they play a hugely important role in a healthy ecosystem.

The Royal Horticultural Society, founded in 1804, is the UK’s largest gardening charity, and they work to enrich life through plants and planet-friendly gardening to make the UK greener.

RHS says gastropods in gardens (slugs and snails) are what they receive the most complaints about. According to research by the RHS, only nine of the forty-four species of slugs in the UK eat plants. They play a vital role in a thriving garden and healthy ecosystem.

Slugs are considered natural recyclers. They clear up dead or decaying matter from the garden, and they are essential meals for other needed garden visitors like hedgehogs and birds. Some species of slugs even eat algae from greenhouses.

Many people don’t see the significant role of these gastropods and kill them with salt, chemicals, or pesticides, which aren’t suitable for the garden in the first place.

If slugs and snails are causing unwanted damage to gardens, there are much more ethical ways to move them out of the area. The RHS has natural and cruelty-free ways to get these critters out of the garden, including planting things that slugs prefer to eat to draw them to those plants instead.

The charity’s principal entomologist, Andrew Salisbury, said, “The RHS is all too aware of the role that gardens have in supporting biodiversity and as such will no longer label any garden wildlife as ‘pests.’ Instead, there will be greater consideration of and focus on the role that slugs, aphids, and caterpillars play in a balanced garden ecosystem along with more popular wildlife (or animals) such as birds, hedgehogs and frogs.”

It’s important to know that insects that can be thought of as destroyers help out the garden more than we know. For example, wasps eat flies, aphids, and caterpillars who are known to cause garden problems. Earwigs, or pincher bugs, should be welcomed into gardens as they reduce aphid numbers. Caterpillars are also important food for birds.

This is a complete 360 for the RHS, which releases a list each year called “top garden pests,” which their members have complained about. The charity will now concentrate on other threats to gardens like climate change and invasive species. According to scientists in the UK, the country is moving towards a milder and wetter climate, in which many invasive species and plant diseases thrive.

Natural, cruelty-free ways to gently remove slugs and snails from your garden according to RHS:

  • Slugs love young and vulnerable seedlings. Grow plants in pots before transferring them to gardens when they are strong enough.
  • Snails and slugs are excellent recyclers. When it’s damp outside, go and collect a handful of slugs, then place them in your compost, where they can live happily and feast on all your garden waste.
  • Put plants that slugs like near their favorite plants so they eat those instead.
  • Digging a pond to encourage frogs can help eliminate a slug problem. It’s a great way to keep a healthy ecosystem.
  • Birds love to feed on snails, so encourage birds to come with a bird feeder.
  • Raking over soil and removing fallen leaves can allow birds to eat slug eggs that have been exposed.

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