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Wet weather has farmers facing invasion

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 15, 2012

Farmer Phil Thomas says his crops have taken a hammering

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The washout summer has caused a slimy new problem for farmers – an invasion of millions of crop-munching slugs.

The wet spring and summer has produced ideal breeding conditions for the creatures now hungrily devouring crops after multiplying rapidly.

Farmer Phil Thomas of Linscombe Farm organics, near Exeter, has been particularly badly hit.

The carrots and aubergines he grows organically have been decimated by the pests which get under the edges of his polythene greenhouses.

And because he doesn't use pesticides it means he is faced with a horror job of killing as many slugs as possible – by hand.

He said: "The crops have taken a hammering.

"The slugs eat the growing tips out of the middle of the plant, which really knocks the plant back. We have to come in the middle of the night and pick them off the plants.

"Then you have to either drown them or crush them – it's not the nicest of jobs.

"You have to wear gloves because you'll never get the slime off your fingers otherwise."

A spokesman for the National Farmers' Union said the slug infestation was disastrous.

He said: "On a good night a slug can munch its way through 50 wheat seeds after they've been planted.

"They can travel over five metres a night, they can smell food over 60 centimetres away and then they're all over it.

"They're not good news."

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