Spanish slug (Arion vulgaris) and SlugWatch web site
In early spring 2012 a new species of slug, the Spanish slug, was identified for the first time in the UK, by Dr. Ian Bedford of the John Innes Centre, Norwich. It is thought it entered the UK on imported salad leaves, bare root trees or potted plants and may soon make another unwelcome invasive species. Bedford said ” “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,” said Bedford. “We want photos and sightings from members of the public to help build a picture of how widespread the Spanish slug is. The reports may also give us an idea of whether it is breeding with native species to form a hybrid combining the worst of the Spanish slug with tolerance to frosts and cold from our own species.”
Native Large Red slugs Arion rufus above, can grow to be 12cm in length. A similar species Arion ater is known as the Black slug. These slugs will, when threatened, contract into this spherical shape, produce mucus and rock from side to side. This make it very difficult for a potential predator to get ‘a grip of’ the slug and would appear rather threatening. This species is not as damaging as some other species.e.g. the Grey Field slug, (Deroceras reticulatum) even though it can grow rather large. The Spanish slug looks very similar to our own native Arion large red species only larger at 15cm!
The SlugWatch website has been set up to allow people to report where and when they have seen these slugs. A Slug Identifiaction Guide, which includes some native UK species, a slug anatomy diagram, a SlugWatch poster to print and other useful information can be found on it.