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Beer stops the spread of sex-mad Spanish slugs

Scientists and slug experts have advised that the giant Spanish slug offensive in the UK can be halted with a saucer of home brew beer.

(Photo: W. Fischer

The six-inch Arion vulgaris, believed to have travelled to the UK on salad leaves, can eat up to 20 slug pellets before it dies.

First spotted in the UK in 2010, the sex-mad slugs produce double the quantity of slime and twice as many eggs as their British counterparts. They also have a cannibalistic tendency and feed on a ‘wide range of green plants, decayed organic matter and animal carcasses,’ according to DAISIE (Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe) on which they are classified as among the 100 worst alien species in Europe.

It is feared that the new slugs will mate with their native cousins to create ‘super-slugs’ capable of withstanding both hot and cold weather.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Dr Leslie Noble of the University of Aberdeen, advised that a saucer of beer was the best way to eradicate the pests. The slugs have a particular penchant for the beverage, causing them to investigate and then drown in the liquid.

“Home brew is the best, but it’s quite labour intensive,” he said.

Dr Ian Bedford, head of entomology at the John Innes Centre, said: “It’s about understanding your enemy.

“We know so little about this species. We think they’re spreading through Europe, and causing problems for crops, but it’s all anecdotal at the moment, so we need to do research.

“We’ve only been able to confirm Arion vulgaris is in East Anglia so far. It is possible it has spread wider afield but without a taxonomic analysis we cannot say.”

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