The Summer of 2015 is set to be the worst ever for slug and snail damage in UK gardens, according to Britain’s biggest garden retailer.

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Wyevale Garden Centres released a slugs and snails forecast for the new growing season, claiming that the country has experienced “perfect conditions for slugs to survive the winter in our gardens as eggs”.

According to business data from market research company GfK, UK gardeners spent £11.6 million on products to battle slugs in 2014, in a bid to fend off over 30 species of mollusc.

The Met Office said temperatures were higher than average in December and January. And with no prolonged cold snap, it’s likely that greater numbers of slugs will over-winter.

Wyevale’s Sarah Fuller said: “Last year gardeners removed up to 4,000 slugs per month.

“It’s likely that more slugs will have survived this winter, so gardeners will be fighting larger numbers and will need to use effective methods.”

Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Surrey, East and West Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Kent are known “slug hotspots”.

In addition, the more fearsome Spanish slug is spreading in the UK. It can grow to 6in (15cm) and has an extra layer of protective slime, making it immune to many anti-slug products.

Dr Ian Bedford, a leading entomologist, said: “It has been estimated that a metre of UK garden could accommodate up to 200 slugs, each of which can have up to 200 offspring.

“They usually survive winter in our gardens as eggs. Without a cold snap, slug numbers (especially the Spanish slug which can lay up to 400 eggs) will escalate this year,” Dr Bedford added.