As An Invasive Species
Arion vulgaris is considered among the 100 worst alien species in Europe in DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway, and this is the only land gastropod among these one hundred ones. Arion vulgaris is the worst slug pest in Europe and it has an important economical, ecological, health and social impact.
The local name of the slug in the regions it has invaded is typically a translation of "Spanish slug". In recent years, as its dominance has increased, it has been nicknamed "killer slug", perhaps due to its tendency to eat dead or weaker individuals of the species, although its destructive impact on gardens may seem just as appropriate a reason for the name. The German name "Spanische Wegschnecke" for the species translates "Spanish road slug", which could be misunderstood to indicate spread along roadside vegetation. "Wegschnecke" is the German artificial name invented for the genus Arion, so all members of the genus carry this name.
The main reason behind problematic invasions of gardens by the Spanish slug is that it has adapted to a dry climate, where most eggs will dry out before hatching. The slug lays hundreds of eggs so that at least some may hatch. In the less dry regions of Northern Europe and Britain, the constraints of drought do not limit reproduction to the same degree. The species is also gregarious, allowing for mass occurrences. Like all pulmonate snails and slugs, it is a hermaphrodite, meaning that one single slug can start an infestation. Poor control of exported produce has also been assumed to be a cause, as the main route for the slugs to spread was long time thought to have been through careless handling of imported produce from Spain and Portugal.
In recent years, it has been observed that the Spanish slug has bred with the indigenous black slug Arion ater to produce a more frost-resistant variety in the more northerly regions. Danish authorities maintain that the Spanish slug, black slug and red slug are in fact subspecies of the same species.
Read more about this topic: Spanish Slug
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