Gardening: Remove most common pests from your garden without damage – slugs and more

Gardeners' World: Expert advises on box plant alternatives

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Pests can be a pain, especially if they are affecting the growth of your plants. They can also leave mess in your garden, leaving you with extra tasks to do.

Luckily, the Royal Horticultural Society has shared natural, non-chemical ways to get rid of pests in your garden.

These methods will not cause any harm to any other animals or plants.

Slugs

The RHS recommended searching for slugs with a torchlight on mild evenings, especially when the soil is damp.

You can hand pick the slugs into a container and then take them to a field that is far away from your garden.

Or they can be killed in the freezer before being added to the compost heap or put in the bin.

Raking over soil and removing fallen leaves during winter can also allow predators, such as birds, to eat slugs.

Additionally, put out traps like a scooped out half orange, grapefruit and melon skins, or jars part-filled with beer.

These jars can be sunk into the soil near vulnerable plants.

Grey squirrels

Grey squirrels are common pests that often eat plants and buds.

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Netting can give protection to fruits and shrubs when squirrels are showing interest in them, the RHS said.

Wire netting is best as squirrels can easily bite through plastic.

Squirrel-proof bird feeders and tables are also available from garden centres.

These enclose the food dispenser in a wire cage, allowing birds access but keeping squirrels out.

Rats

The RHS recommended preventing rats from coming to your garden by removing any accessible food sources.

When feeding other wildlife, do not let excess food build up, and make sure bins are sealed.

Do not throw food, such as potatoes, on the compost, as this could attract rats.

If rat control is necessary, it is best to contact the local council as they usually offer a rat control service.

Box tree caterpillars

Box tree caterpillars cause damage to plants that can lead to disease.

To prevent box tree caterpillars from your garden, the RHS advised investing in pheromone traps which can help monitor adult moth activity.

These are available from several suppliers including Agralan, Dragonfli, and Solabiol.

Another tip is to consider choosing alternatives to box plants, as these are the plants the caterpillars usually feed on.

There have been reports of some birds, such as blue tits, feeding on these caterpillars in some locations.

To attract birds to your garden, put feeders out and consider building or buying bird nests.

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