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Is it the rain or the slug from Spain?
8:10am Friday 6th July 2012 in Durham Wildlife Trust
On the drive into work, the radio carried news of a new deadly invasive species threatening the UK.
The ‘killer slug’, or ‘stealth slug’, is apparently a great threat to native species and will, again ‘apparently’, pose a significant economic threat as an agricultural pest.
Definitely something worth investigating.
However, further investigation has only created confusion.
A quick online search produced an article in a national newspaper that gives the scientific name of this new marauding mollusc as Arion flagellus – a.k.a. the Durham slug!
Despite writing something about the Durham slug some time ago, I still don’t know it is called the Durham slug (it probably comes from Spain), but I do know it is not new to the UK.
Could a national newspaper really have got the story wrong? Hard to believe, isn’t it.
A bit more investigation and, depending on which source you look at, it appears the animal in question is Arion vulgaris, which seems to also be known as Arion lusitanicus.
The clue is in the Latin name, as Lusitania was a Roman province that included part of modern day Spain. But, Arion lusitanicus isn’t a new species in the UK either.
It was first recorded in Britain in 1954.
However, this particular Spanish slug does fit the description in the newspaper, and its ability to produce a greater number of offspring than other slugs accounts for the fears of a plague.
On the other hand, given that it hasn’t stopped raining for several weeks, could it be just be that there are more slugs about than normal?