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Swedish woman battles killer slug invasion

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Swedish woman battles killer slug invasion
The 'killer slugs' invade Sweden every year. Photo: Gunnar Lundmark/SvD/SCANPIX
10:39 CEST+02:00
A Swedish woman armed with nothing but her wits and a bucket has told how she fought off an army of almost 2,000 Spanish slugs.

Just when you thought the strawberry shortage was over, it's time to move on to Sweden's next summer problem: Spanish slugs.

A woman spoke on Tuesday of the nasty surprise she got when she opened her door to find an army of nearly 2,000 of the killer beasts camped out on her lawn.

“I almost died when I saw them, it was insane. At the front of the house we've got about 200 square metres of garden and in that place alone I collected around 1,400 slugs,” Helen Martens in southern Sweden told regional newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad (HD).

The Spanish slug, which also goes by the formal name of Arion Lusitanicus or the slightly more colloquial 'killer slug' ('mördarsnigel'), is foreign to traditional Swedish fauna but has been ravaging gardens across the country since first seen in 1975.

READ ALSO: Swedish man kills 27,000 in slimy slug slaughter

Today the slimy organism can be found throughout southern Sweden, in most of central Sweden, and even along the country's northern coastal areas. It is a regular topic among Swedish gardeners who every summer find themselves embroiled in a battle with casualties involving chewed-up lettuce, missing herbs and damaged flowers.

And when Martens opened her front door in Södra Åkarp on Monday morning, she was shocked. Boosted by the past days' rainfall, the almost 2,000-strong slug army had already begun their first assault on her plants.

“It was the perfect weather for them. They had also seized the opportunity to eat the sun flowers and pumpkins that my son had planted in the garden,” she told HD.

But Martens was not to be discouraged. One by one she carefully picked the invaders from the battlefield and dumped them in a five-litre bucket – which almost filled to the brim.

“In total I picked 1,773 slugs,” she said.

The wettest May in decades has created perfect conditions for the Spanish slugs to breed in Sweden. And even the heatwave forecast for later this week is unlikely to put up much of a defence, according to experts.

“This is a slug year and warmer weather won't kill them all. But a sudden change in the weather could make it harder for the next generation of killer slugs to survive,” Ted von Proschwitz at Gothenburg's Natural History Museum told HD.

“Picking almost 2,000 slugs is a lot, but I've spoken to others who have picked several hundreds every day. This is the most slug-dense year since 2012, and the reason was that May was so rainy,” he added.

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