Gardeners in Shropshire have been told to expect an epidemic of slugs this summer. Experts fear crops will suffer after the mild winter and recent damp spell created perfect conditions for slugs.
A warning has also gone out to farmers who, it has been said, could see their produce ruined.
Experts say the slug population has trebled in some areas, including Shropshire, meaning the pests could munch their way through record amounts of plants.
Scientists have said he epidemic could result in £16 million of commercial crops being damaged – double the usual amount.
Scientists have counted up to 1,000 slugs per square metre in some areas.
Dr Richard Meredith, of Bayer Crop Science, said: "It means the slug population in the UK could be 15 billion. That's 250 slugs for every Briton.
"They like rain and warmth. We prayed for rain, and now we've had months of it – and the slugs are thriving.
"If it carries on like this we can expect to have a serious challenge protecting crops."
"It isn't the fat slugs you see on a dewy evening that cause the most problems to crops – it's the smaller black ones."
Dr Meredith added the pests have thrived in recent months because the weather had not been hot enough to send them underground.
He added: "A stinking hot summer would change everything."
Other areas most likely to suffer from the epidemic are Lancashire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.