Dr Hayley Jones

Hayley leads our research into slugs and snails (gastropods) in gardens while also working on the agapanthus gall midge, a new pest to science, discovered by the RHS in 2014

What do you do?

I research cultural, biological and chemical control options for the UK’s most persistent – and the RHS Gardening Advice’s most enquired about pests – slugs and snails. My research aims to find effective and environmentally-friendly ways to manage slugs and snails in gardens and ensure we’re providing accurate and useful advice to the gardening public.
Lots of garden slugs do not feed on live plants and we don’t want to affect them with the control options we use. I supervise a PhD student who is working to understand which species are pests, which are neutral and which can provide benefits to gardens.
By contrast to these well-established pests, I’m also researching the agapanthus gall midge ­­– first discovered by the RHS in 2014. This insect was undescribed (new to science) when first found in the UK, so there was very little information about it. So far my research has helped us understand more about its biology and lifecycle and started to test control options.
The other major part of my job is communicating knowledge and research to RHS members and the gardening public, either face-to-face at shows and events, through my advisory role with RHS Gardening Advice, or through press interviews.

“It’s quite an experience working with both the oldest pest in the gardening book and one of the newest. It can be challenging trying to piece together the existing knowledge on these animals, but it’s very satisfying completing studies and adding more pieces to the puzzle.”

Why is your team’s research important?

My research can very quickly lead to the RHS updating the advice it gives to gardeners. Results from my tests into barriers and control methods for managing slugs and snails could quickly help update the strategies used in gardens across the country.

In the case of agapanthus gall midge, I hope my research will also produce control options for nurseries, so that home gardeners can continue to buy and enjoy Agapanthus flowers.

Projects I’m working on now

Completed projects


Awarded research funding from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board for work on agapanthus gall midge in 2016 and 2018.

Successfully supervised three RHS summer student projects including: Life cycle and biology of an emergent pest, the agapanthus gall midge, with student Julie Lin, funded by the David Colegrave foundation as part of the RSPB Plant Health Undergraduate Studentships.

Member of the Royal Entomological Society Outreach and Development Committee since 2018 and Honorary Research Associate at the Royal Holloway University of London since 2017.


  • McDonald-Howard K, Williams C, Jones H, Rae R. (2021) A method of culturing and breeding slugs through several generations. Journal of Molluscan Studies.
  • Jones H, Bennison J et al. (2020) Development of novel control options for agapanthus gall midge. Final Report AHDB project HNS PO 199a
  • Jones H, Bennison J et al. (2017) Biology and control of agapanthus gall midge. Final Report AHDB project HNS PO 199
  • Harris KM, Salisbury A, Jones H. (2016) Enigmadiplosis agapanthi, a new genus and species of gall midge (Diptera, Cecidomyiidae) damaging Agapanthus flowers in England. Cecidology, 31, pp17–20

PhD Students

  • Supervisor to Imogen Cavadino studying for a PhD on Garden Gastropods: Slug and Snail Diversity in UK Gardens, based at the RHS and registered at Newcastle University
  • Supervisor to Kerry-Lyn McDonald-Howard studying for a PhD on Improving the biological control of slugs with Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita, at Liverpool John Moores University

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.