Researchers appeal to send 1,000 slugs by post

A brownish-orange slug in grass
The public is being asked to pop slugs in the post and send them off for research [Getty Images]

Academics in need of 1,000 slugs for research purposes have appealed to the public to catch the gastropods and send them via post.

The project, run by Harper Adams University in Shropshire, aims to reduce reliance on pellet usage by studying slug behaviour.

Researchers now need more of them, in order to test out slug-resistant wheat.

"The slugs get a really good life. It's fine to send them through the post, as long as you don't do so on a Thursday or Friday," said Prof Keith Walters from the university.

"Once they arrive at the lab, then they're treated to the most delicious organic lettuce while they're waiting to take part in the scientific tests," he told BBC Radio Shropshire.

Research thus far has discovered that slugs gather in patches, which is related to soil factors.

The project hopes, with the help of farmers, to be able to predict where they gather, which they hope could lead to needing to use fewer chemicals on the land.

"We've found some slug-resistant wheat, and we're putting it to the test in the lab," said Prof Walters.

But, for that, they need an abundance of slugs.

"We need about 1,000 slugs. We've already been through 2,000 slugs in previous work."

'Slug sleuths'

The public can sign up to help online, and once they have done so, a slug shipping pack is sent to them.

As well as asking people to ship them out, the project, which is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is also looking to recruit farmers to become "slug sleuths."

They would take part in monitoring and trials to test the results from the first year of research.

"It's all about taking what we've learnt and testing it on more farms in different locations, and we'll be paying farmers to do that work for us," added Prof Walters.

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