I've never been a fan of slugs, ever since as a young child I ran barefoot into the garden and stepped on what felt like a nesting swarm of the darn things. They squished and popped underfoot, leaving me feeling very yucky indeed!
You'll understand, therefore, that news of an invasion of giant slugs in England makes me less willing to visit the place - to put it mildly! The Telegraph reports:
“Monster slugs” from the Iberian peninsula are swarming across Britain, fuelled by the rain, which has provided ideal conditions for the creatures to grow. Slug experts report a two-fold increase in giant Spanish slugs, which can grow up to 10 inches long, with some gardens swamped by 200 at a time. There have been reports of these slugs gnawing on dead rabbits and invading letter boxes, where they devour the glue on stamps.
Concerned Daily Telegraph readers have flooded our post room with tales of the “longest and fattest” slugs they have ever seen. “Could this be because we have a nuclear facility a few miles away, and the slugs have mutated?” asks Michael Cattell from Chester. “I have put the obesity epidemic down to my calorie-laden dahlia leaves,” writes Vicki Ely from Eltham. And Liney Cumberlege from Wandsworth explains what happened when her husband dared to confront one: “When he foolishly picked one up with his bare hand, his punishment was to be covered in a thick slime ejected by the ugly garden pest… Slug 1 Husband 0!”
. . .
More common this year are two varieties that have crossed the continent: the “Spanish stealth slug” (Arion flagellus), breeding here for 40 years, and the “Spanish slug” (Arion vulgaris), which hitched a lift across the Channel in pot plants and salads.
“Big slugs mature at this time of year, which is why we’re seeing massive amounts,” explains Dr David Glen, a slug specialist with Styloma Research and Consulting. “They’re especially big because we’ve had such ideal growing conditions. Not much will eat them: they have a very sticky, defensive mucus to repel predators.”
. . .
In the end, says Dr Glen, gardeners may be fighting a losing battle. “Soon this year’s batch will lay their eggs in the soil and die off. Their eggs will hatch over the winter and next year the invasion could start all over again.”
There's more at the link.
The BBC reported earlier this year that the giant invaders may pose a threat to native British slugs. Quite frankly, I hope the damn things eat each other until they're at bursting point - and then burst! I daresay many British gardeners would agree with me.