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Swedish woman kills 14,000 'revolting' slugs

The Local · 9 Jul 2012, 17:06

Published: 09 Jul 2012 17:06 GMT+02:00

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The garden of Hilkka Risberg, 65, has been littered with chewed-up lettuce, missing herbs, and damaged flowers ever since the Spanish slugs, known colloquially in Sweden as "killer slugs" (mördersniglar) invaded her backyard plot in Gävle.

“It all started three years ago – and they ate everything. I began by taking them out of the garden but they just kept coming back, so I started to kill them,” she told The Local.

As Risberg noticed that her killing figures were steadily growing over the years, she decided to keep a journal tallying her kills for each day, in an effort to see if numbers were indeed rising.

“Since May 10th this year when I started the journal, I have killed 14,518. Not all from my garden, but also from a 500 metre stretch that the garden backs onto,” she said.

“My best day was July 27th – a really rainy Tuesday. On Tuesdays it’s “Old Members” day at the golf club for the over 55s, and I was walking to the golf course when I realized it was closed. I did a double session that day, both morning and night.

I killed 425 that morning and 388 that evening. I did it all with an umbrella in my hand and my weapon in the other. I guess I had extra energy from not playing golf!”

And Risberg’s weapon of choice?

A one-metre long stick with a forked end. She claims it is the fastest death for the slugs and means they don’t suffer.

“Before, I used secateurs to chop their heads off, but I got terribly bad knees from bending down all the time and now have had to have two knee replacement operations,” she told The Local.

“And the secateurs were impossible to clean, the slime never comes off. Whacking slugs is my only exercise these days, I can’t walk so much – I can’t even do a whole round of golf anymore with these knees.”

Risberg explains that while the slugs are not only eating her garden, she also thinks they are “revolting cannibals” – as she has even witnessed them eating the dead bodies of one another.

While Risberg admits she is usually animal friendly, she claims to respect the opinion of people who take issue with her massacres.

“Some people have told me it’s cruel, but I bet those people kill mosquitoes and flies. I respect their opinion, but these slugs don’t belong in Sweden, they have no natural predators. It has to be a person. And if I don’t do it, who will?”

Story continues below…

The Spanish slug, or Arion lusitanicus as it is formally known, is a species foreign to traditional Swedish fauna. The slugs were first seen in Sweden in 1975.

Today the slimy organism can be found throughout southern Sweden, in most of central Sweden, and even along the country's northern coastal areas.

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:47 July 9, 2012 by byke
"these slugs don't belong in Sweden"

Where is Jimmie Åkesson when you need him?
18:33 July 9, 2012 by CDRoth
Isn't she under arrest for racist slaughter?
19:39 July 9, 2012 by Svensksmith
Yeah, I remember those disgusting slugs...but now that we're back in the States we have Japanese Beetles.

I'd rather have the slugs.
19:55 July 9, 2012 by Paul_225
I saw 2 slugs applying for asylum the other day.
20:06 July 9, 2012 by rfmann
Slow news day...
21:22 July 9, 2012 by cattie
I used to see these slugs out at nature reserves on occassion. This year they are ubiquitous in outside our apartment near Malaren. in Stockholm. The size of a cat feces and more ugly.
21:51 July 9, 2012 by haliway
OK... SMALL BRAIN SHORT MIND i have some explanations for this old woman. Slugs have predators in sweden named birds, hedgehogs, rats, frogs, snakes and even some sneaky other animals. So please DON´T TALK S**T WHEN YOU DON´T KNOW!!! You said that you saw some slugs being cannibals, i would say that it´s pretty normal (when you know slugs), they can actually eat other slugs and it´s a natural behaviour!!! And contrary to what you think old woman, slugs are good for the nature and instead of killing them, you could gather all of them in a bucket everyday (if you´re surrounded by DANGEROUS SLUGS as it seems to be... ) and drive them few kilometers later when you go somewhere (especially in Sweden where it´s not so difficult to find some forests or meadows around...).

Swedes are so funny. They talk s**t about ecology and few seconds after they go back to their own garden mowing the grass and killing everything alive to be sure that everything looks so PERFECT with a dead garden where not even an ant is welcomed... What a joke !!!

So I will be so nice with you old woman, you want a tip, dig a line around your garden (or sprinkle around your garden) and fill it with barbecue ashes and charcoal pieces (it´s a natural protection against snails and slugs) and none of them will be able to enter in your PRECIOUS garden !!! Besides it costs a lot less than chemical products and absolutely not harmful to other insects or kids like those stupid blue pills killing everything around. But of course to know that, you should have a brain and ask or take a look on internet (google is your friend, even wikipedia details this tip) !!!
22:48 July 9, 2012 by Radhus
We have a lot in the forest behind our house. When my eldest daughter was at preschool she loved counting them so it was good practice for her. There are always well over 100. I hate them, but I wouldn't kill them, even the ones we see under the front step after it rains...my youngest girl says there are "snakes" there.
22:50 July 9, 2012 by dizzymoe33
She can also use a pie tin or a plate and put some beer in it and set it out and the slugs will be attracted to the beer and what do you know no more slugs. You want to use something with some type of lip/edge on it but not to tall.

Hey if you can have drunk moose/elk running around Sweden then you can also have some drunks slugs and snails!!!
23:46 July 9, 2012 by dizzy09

I wonder what u´ll say if sweden is evaded by a swan of locusts? to the old lady please keep up the good work, those things are really disgusting. how can something that attack vegetables be considered ok? Something should be done before their population become uncontrollable.
02:17 July 10, 2012 by elmaka
Why do humans always think they have the right to decide who lives or dies? and this perpetual control over any animal is disgusting!!!
04:44 July 10, 2012 by jimmyjames
See what happens when you allow a NON-NATIVE entity to invade your biosphere. The same principal applies to human-beings. When you allow a non-native entity to live amongst you their numbers grow and grow until finally, just like with the slugs, they overwhelm the indiginous life-forms. This un-natural state of affairs will always result in a situation like you had in the former Yugoslavia......
08:43 July 10, 2012 by prince T
@Jimmyjames. Should we kill them? Is that what u are advocating. Ur brother mang and brevik have heeded your advise. The so called natives go to ethopia and iraq to suck oil. Evidence of your shallow brain is being demonstrated with your anology. The problem with low life pple like u is that the problem u create affects all of us.
10:56 July 10, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
....was she counting every single one..?

Methinks she has FAR too much time on her hands
13:25 July 10, 2012 by DAVID T
Catch them and send them to France - they eat then
18:09 July 10, 2012 by GreenJeans
You can use slug shields to protect your plants for the whole season.
01:18 July 11, 2012 by Svensksmith
Sorry, haliway, but they are an invasive species not native to Sweden. Killing them is the proper thing to do. Too bad there isn't some use for them.
18:45 July 11, 2012 by haliway

OK... what an example... For my part i think that fat swedes (i´m kidding) are disgusting... should i kill them for that ??? And for your comment about something attacking green stuff how stupid could it be considered ? honestly ??? If slugs live everywhere in Europe cleaning the dead leafs and grass and some green ones i guess the nature has its own reasons... the same in Sweden with AT LEAST THE NATURAL SWEDISH SNAILS...

But I guess if this woman kills slugs, she does the same with the NATURAL swedish snails... the true reason is not slug invasion but the fact that swedes are so F*****G bored with their own life that they feel the need to mow the grass and clean the garden every two days (maybe everyday for some people) to be like the neighbour with dead garden covered by grass and some NOT NATURAL swedish flowers. It reminds me my swedish girlfriend´s neighbour, cutiing grass almost everyday, counting the snails as a victory and putting them in a pot filled with salt (the most painful death for them) just to be the PERFECT man (M*R*N for me) with his swedish garden (how sick can people be seriously ?!!!).

That´s the fact that pisses me off with Sweden, swedes seem to be so bored and depressed getting kids before 30, having a combi car because they need space for the kids (OK do you put your kids in the trunk ??? Funny knowing that all over Europe people don´t need a combi to manage their own family), being drunk to be able to be funny and be laughing. The fashion lifestyle in Sweden is to be like everybody else around, what a funny life !!!

*** Even being able to yell at someone feeding birds because it´s not "recommended", supervising the harbor to be sure that no one is doing it (that happened once to my girlfriend and i wonder how bored someone can be to spend his days playing the police game). ***
06:19 July 13, 2012 by Da Goat
@ Haliway

You seem to be an angry person but that does not mean it is OK to commit Bio-Terrorism as you advocated in your first comment ....Collecting a exotic pest species and transporting them any where else is a serious felony !

exotic species like this Slug should be at minimum controlled if not wiped out , this old girl is actually doing the correct thing even if she is years too late to make a difference.

It was my understanding that these Slugs were toxic/distasteful hence nothing ate them and therefore they are breeding out of control ...otherwise they would be no problem! as you think they are no problem!

I know the Swedes are weird and boring but you can always migrate brother!
10:08 July 13, 2012 by the_drew
I have similar numbers of snails in my garden, I tried various techniques to get rid, BBQ ash is highly effective but I simply can't burn enough coal / wood to create a barrier around my land. It also washes away in the rain.

In the end, I resorted to a bucket full of salt water, it kills them almost instantly and the numbers of snails have most definitely reduced.
06:19 July 14, 2012 by MarkinBoston
Look on YouTube - you can use a battery powered double electric wire around your garden bed, When they crawl across both wires at the same time, they get a 9V shock
10:17 July 14, 2012 by ann2
Counting is meditative and second nature to some people. And of course she has time on her hands, she's retired!

I'm just concerned that sticking a fork through them is enough. My mother-in-law cuts them in half with scissors.
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