THEY are slimy, squidgy and amongst gardener’s biggest enemies.

Now a trio of friends say they have developed a new weapon against the dreaded slug – and the environmentally friendly formula will fertilise your garden too.

Produced in Oban, Slugzilla is said to be the first product of its kind.

Billed as “natural, sustainable and responsible”, the pourable formula is made from seaweed sourced from the Hebrides and mixed with additional compounds from plant sources.

Rather than kill the gastropods, it acts as a deterrent to keep them away from vegetable patches and leafy plants.

Meanwhile, the high mineral content of the seaweed is also said to encourage gardens to grow.

Biotech expert Dr Charlie Bavington hit upon the formula after a chance conversation with friends over a couple of beers.

Now the three have unleashed the eco-friendly result to the market, and plan to turn it into a major company.

Currently available through selected grower’s associations and via the company’s store on web marketplace eBay, the commercial release follows allotment trials and assessment by an entomologist.

The team says trials using common varieties like lettuce showed that while untreated leaves were devoured, those exposed to pet-friendly Slugzilla remained virtually untouched.

Plans are currently underway to develop a range of Slugzilla products, including one to deter the common pests from entering homes, one geared towards other insect varieties, and another in pellet form.

Bavington hopes the move will see the blue chemical pellets currently found in many gardens replaced with his less harmful alternative.

The brightly-coloured poisons kill off slug and snail species and have also been blamed for the deaths of dogs. Metaldehyde in that formula also dissolves into waterways.

Bavington told The National: “This is a sustainable business and an environmentally friendly product. That’s not an ad-on, it’s about finding a sustainable solution to the problem.”

Together with a third partner who did not want to be named, Bavington and Jason Garton came up with the concept while chatting about their gardens.

Bavington said: “We said if you could combine something that would deal with the slugs with something organic and a fertiliser, it would be a great product.

“Seaweed, with its properties, was ideal, and we combined that with plant extracts.

“It works, we really like it, and although we currently do this on the side, we want to turn it into our jobs.

“We have plans for a range of products and something bigger that can work in an agricultural context.”

On reasons against killing the beasties, Bavington said: “Slugs are part of our environment and part of the food chain so we want to control them, not kill them.”

The news comes after the Royal Horticulural Society (RHS) said its tests suggest common home remedies to deter slugs are ineffective.

Lead researcher Dr Hayley Jones spearheaded assessments of five methods, including applications of copper tape, sharp grit, pine bark, wool pellets or egg shells as a barrier around outdoor vegetation.

However, her team found none of these was able to prevent the slimy pests from using the leafy plants as a food source.

RHS now plans to test the effectiveness of beer traps.