Can science stop invasion of the giant killer slugs?

An adult of Arion vulgaris.

An adult of Arion vulgaris. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Someone out there must love slugs, those slimy creatures that chomp their way through my lettuce.  Now we hear of the invasion of giant Spanish slugs.  I’d like to say there’s a certain machismo to this but slugs of course are hermaphrodites, just one of their fascinating features once you get to know them.  If you believed in reincarnation though you’d have to wonder what kind of faux-pas you’d have to commit to come back as a slug.


Spanish Slug

The slug from Spain,
Arion Vulgaris,
just one on the list of alien species
invading our shores.
If you saw it you’d scream,
a slithery monster from the worst of your dreams.
Like the mythical Slivers
it’ll give you the shivers,
large and voracious
it’s aggressive, rapacious
cutting swathes through the land.

As large as your hand,
this gastropod mollusc,
this roundback slug
is cosily snug
in the mild, moist melange of our clime.
It doesn’t like frost
but in time it will cross
with one of our native slugs –
a large black, a grey field,
a leopard, a lemon, a garden, a keeled,
they all have a certain appeal
to this omnivore of a conquistador.
And then ……..
no stopping its advance,
no chance of reprieve,
you’d better believe
the slug from Spain
………. is staying.


12th October 2013 – headline from the Guardian

Notes:  “Can science stop invasion of the giant killer slugs?”  The gardens and fields of Britain were saved from a grim invasion this spring. Thanks to the sharp, late frosts of May, millions of giant Spanish slugs – which threatened to devastate plants across the country – were killed. Never has so much been owed to such a poor spring.  But now experts fear that Arion vulgaris – which was first spotted in East Anglia a year ago – may soon make an unwelcome return to our shores.  The Spanish slug is a voracious predator that can survive eating many of the slug pellets that are supposed to kill them. It eats crops spared by our native slugs, tolerates drier conditions, reproduces in greater numbers and even eats dead animals and excrement.  Experts fear that the Spanish slug could breed with native varieties to form a hybrid combining the worst of the Spanish slug with tolerance to frosts and cold from British species.

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