During half term, families are being enlisted as ‘slug scouts’ to help combat the damage done to crops.

The initiative, led by scientists at the John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norwich, invites the public to participate by requesting a free kit to trap and collect slugs from dark, damp areas in fields.

These collected slugs are then sent to researchers at JIC, who are working to devise pest control methods as an alternative to chemical slug pellets.

With slugs posing a significant threat to crops, costing the farming industry up to £100mil annually, the need for effective, sustainable, and economical control measures is urgent.

Past collaborations with schools, where pupils constructed special ‘slimeries’ to gather slugs, have been successful. However, more slugs are required, driving the Defra-funded SLIMERS (Strategies Leading to Improved Management and Enhanced Resilience Against Slugs) project.

SLIMERS is a three-year research project costing £2.6mil and involving more than 100 farms and six partners.

Tom Allen-Stevens, founder of the British On-Farm Innovation Network (BOFIN), which distributes the kits, underlined the importance of the initiative: “What we need are grey field slugs (Deroceras reticulatum) – the ones that really give farmers a headache. So, we’re calling on those who can identify the right ones to send them in.”

The research aims to transform slug control, reducing pesticide usage, and ensuring a greater portion of farmers' crops reach consumers.

Those interested in joining 'slug scouts' can reach out to info@bofin.org.uk or sign up at www.slimers.co.uk, contributing to a worthy cause that benefits agriculture and food security.