As any gardener will testify, snails are a persistent pest. No matter how often they are plucked from a plant, the next day they’re back to eat their way through the foliage.
Now research has shown why. Snails, it appears, have a strong homing instinct – an in-built satnav which guides them to their favourite patch of greenery.
It had been thought that snails were too simple to have any kind of internal navigational system, instead leaving their trails across the vegetable patch entirely at random.
Following the snail trail: Ruth Brooks and a young neighbour examine their subjects after she proved snails had a way of finding their way back to food
But gardener Ruth Brooks claims to have proved otherwise.
The 69-year- old was plagued by the creatures eating her vegetables. Despite moving them to nearby wasteland she noticed that they always seemed to come back.
To test her theory, Mrs Brooks rounded up her snails and marked them with coloured nail polish. She then asked neighbours to collect their little pests and do the same.
The snails were swapped around and observed until Mrs Brooks was able to conclude that most returned to their original gardens. Experts have been astonished by the findings, which won Mrs Brooks the title of Britain’s Amateur Scientist of the Year.