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Giant slugs munching on Sussex farmers' crops
Giant slugs are swarming over the Sussex countryside with the summer’s wet weather turning land into mollusc heaven.
Farmers and fruit growers have reported an increase in the slimy creatures which are destroying their crops.
Heavy rain and warm spells have provided the perfect conditions for the giant pests which can grow to more than 10cm (4in).
The Durham and Spanish slugs may even push up the price of chips because of their effect on potato harvests.
Martin Willing, the county recorder for molluscs, said: “The conditions following months of rain have created an environment which is basically snail and slug heaven.
“The wet conditions not only mean that the slugs aren’t drying out but they also have more vegetation to eat.
“Of the 35 species of slugs in Britain only a few are pests. Most are benign and do no harm but some eat crops.”
B&Q is reporting a 74% increase in sales of slug pellets with the creatures reportedly even making some roads slippery.
Experts have also warned that some species are carrying diseases and parasites that could wipe out other slug types.
John Seward, who runs Seward Strawberry Farm in Bolney, said: “There has definitely been an increase and they inevitably damage some of the plants.”
Trevor Passmore, who runs Coombes Farm in Lancing, added: “I’m particularly worried for our autumn crop because that’s when they could really cause problems.
“Seedlings are susceptible to being nipped in the bud so we will have to be careful.”
Slugs are among the most resilient creatures and are capable of surviving harsh environments before breeding rapidly when conditions suit.
Mr Willing, who has studied the slimy garden dwellers for 50 years, added: “There’s been a rise but it is impossible to estimate by how many.
“I don’t think any conclusions can be reached until proper scientific research has been carried out.”