Britain is facing an invasion of super-sized slugs this summer  and the average garden could be swarming with 20,000 molluscs, experts have warned.
The mild winter and a lack of hard frosts has led to a population of ‘sleepless slugs’ that didn’t go into hibernation during the winter of 2015-16.
Unlike snails, slugs are active above 5C, meaning that millions have been awake all winter, and able to reproduce at a faster rate than normal.
Gardeners are being warned that slugs have been laying between 20 and 100 eggs at a time. It’s calculated that one cubic metre of garden could contain up to 200 slugs, meaning that the average UK garden could be home to up to 20,000.
CEO of charity Buglife, Matt Shardlow, said: “Due to climate shifts, warmer winters and wetter summers, we’re seeing slugs active all year-round, whereas key predators like amphibians will only lay their eggs once a year, slugs are not so restricted.
“Coupled with the fact that slugs are also reaching full size earlier than ever, gardeners are not getting any respite and need innovative solutions.”
Wyevale Garden Centres has reported a 33 per cent increase in sales of ‘friendly’ slug deterrents this year, such as ferric phosphate pellets and slug wool.
Buyer for Wyevale, Duncan McLean, said: “Due to another wet and mild winter with few hard frosts, slugs simply haven’t hibernated as they usually do.
“They’re grazing constantly on prematurely budding plants, and getting larger in the process, up to 40 times their body weight.
“They’re also having the time to breed more, adding to existing colonies and this could spell disaster for our gardens,” Duncan explained.
Gardeners who can’t face watching prize plants devoured by slugs are being urged to grow plants that are known to be unpopular with molluscs.
Gardening experts advise that euphorbia, geranium, foxglove, agapanthus, fuchsia and Japanese anemone aren’t the top choice for hungry slugs.