THE 2014 HEATWAVE could herald a slimy invasion of monsters into our gardens and even our homes, experts are warning.
Two years after the first giant Spanish Slug was spotted in the UK, experts are warning they “breed like rabbits” and the heat loving bright orange to reddy brown slug could munch its way through our greenery and into our homes.
The monster slugs, which growth to between 8cm and 15cm (around six inches) when mature lay up to 400 eggs.
They dine on any dead matter, including dog excrement, deceased animals and crops that aren’t normally susceptible to slug feeding.
They are particularly hardy and resist efforts by pest control to eradicate them, sometimes devouring up to 20 slug pellets before they even start to feel the effects.
The scientists are appealing to the public to report any sightings of the monster slime makers at slugwatch.co.uk and @slugwatch on Twitter.
Dr Ian Bedford, head of entomology at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, first encountered the slugs in East Anglia in 2012.
He counted 350 of them in just one day and when he saw some eating a dead mouse he decided to send samples for identification.
Researchers received a number of sightings of the beasts in April last year, but a sudden cold snap either killed many off or slowed down their breeding.
However, it is feared that the current warm period is set to spark a breeding frenzy of the monsters.
Dr Bedford said: “With the mild winter climate and the conditions we have seen in the spring, we are expecting them to make a comeback this year.
“I am starting to find a few dozen in the garden already.”
The scientist and his team of researchers are seeking to secure funding for urgent research, so as to tackle the monster molluscs before they destroy many crops.
These slugs, which are cannibalistic and eat others of their kind, are thought to have first arrived in Britain on imported lettuce and other salad leaves.
Experts fear they will breed with native species – which play a vital role in our ecosystem – to create a mutant version that could resist all forms of pest control.
Dr Bedford warned: “The Spanish slug is a voracious predator that can survive eating many of the slug pellets that are supposed to kill them.”