16 August 2002

Slugs prefer some types over others

NEW research shows varieties differ hugely in their attractiveness to slugs, which could influence control tactics.

The SAC work suggests slugs are more partial to grain from some varieties and leaves from others. Only a few varieties are susceptible at both stages.

"Slugs will attack certain varieties pre-emergence, but leave plants that survive relatively untouched once they reach the seedling stage," says SACs Andy Evans.

In glasshouse tests, 100% of Riband seed was hollowed post-drilling, for example, but only 20% of plants suffered leaf shredding when slugs were given germinated plants to feed on.

By contrast, Deben seed was left largely unharmed, but almost 50% of leaves were eaten once it emerged.

Sugar content is believed to be the main reason for the differences, which could be exploited when deciding when to apply slug pellets and whether an imidacloprid seed dressing (as in Secur) is likely to be worthwhile, says Dr Evans. &#42