Viljandi authority, residents on slug alert after invasive species returns

Residents and local authorities in various parts of Estonia are having to do battle once again with invasive Spanish slugs, a problem which has occurred in previous years, including those in the South Estonian town of Viljandi.

Viljandi's city government recently worked together to rid areas of the town, particularly close to the lake, Viljandi järv, of the pests.

Villem Kutti, environmental specialist with Viljandi city government, said: "This has been a big problem over the last few years. For this reason, and for the second year in a row, we are campaigning with the Environmental Investment Center (KIK), who funded us with containers in which to put the slugs once picked up."

"Our main problem is on Oru street and by the lake, where we have installed two bins by the lake, we put one container on Oru Street and naturally of course there are also black slugs in it."

The work involves simply picking up the slimy invaders and boxing them up (see gallery).

"It doesn't have many natural 'enemies'. Another possibility is the use of beer traps. I would perhaps recommend to those citizens who may not be able to pick up the slugs from their own gardens to make some beer traps and try them out," he went on.

Peeter Eek, a resident who owns a property near the Pärnu River, some kilometers to the north, has been dealing with the problem himself on his own, where on a good day he can expect to find as many as 50 slugs.

"I feel somewhat like a border guard here. I'll probably never get rid of them here altogether, and I'll simply just collect any that stray in from the forest," he said.

"I'll usually do the first patrol in the morning and the last one in the evening. The evenings last week saw me doing that somewhere around midnight, when it's getting dark, and with a flashlight. At that point it just seems like 'the haul' is even bigger," he added.

Spanish slugs, Arion vulgaris, are known for their voracious appetites and have reportedly devastated native plants in, for instance, Sweden, and also in Russia. The species is often conflated with Portuguese slugs (Arion lusitanicus), which in fact is not a closely related type of slug; the bins provided by Viljandi city authorities effectively acknowledge this by marking them as receptacles for both Spanish (Estonian: Hispaania) and Portuguese (Lusitaania – i.e. Lusitania, the Roman province which roughly corresponded to present-day Portugal.)


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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