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  • Writer's pictureRoss Moughtin

I hate slugs


 

I hate slugs. 

 

I hate slugs because I love dahlias, and here in our garden there exists a state of open warfare between me and these gastropod molluscs. 

 

For menacingly slugs have the ability to consume flowers faster than they can grow. And given that they have no feet, they can move remarkably fast, 29.4 centimetres per minute being the fastest speed recorded in the UK.

 

Not only that, they leave disgusting slime trails. I identify totally with actress Jenny Éclair who confides:  “Well, I'm not good with sliminess. I hate the thought of creatures that have slime on them or creatures that leave a slimy trail. At home, the sight of a slug can bring up my breakfast.”

 

So at this time of year, just before going to bed I head out into our garden – front, side and back – with a torch and a stick.  And on a good night I can dispatch 20 slugs.  But strangely, not this year.  In fact, last night I only found one solitary slug in the middle of the lawn.

 

This is in total contrast with daughter #4 in Bedford, whose two slug traps of beer in buried tin cans this week managed to entice around 200 slugs to their doom, even two nights on the run. 

 

While here in Aughton, my two equivalent slug traps have failed totally.  I just checked – there may be just the one slug resting at the bottom, but I’m not sure.  It could be that I’m using the wrong beer.

 

There again, it could be the hedgehogs.  Just two nights ago I found myself working alongside a surprisingly friendly hedgehog in the slug capital of our garden, as this remarkable animal muzzled their way through the flower beds.   

 

And that may be the reason where the only place I have reliably found slugs this year has been halfway up the back wall of our house. It seems slugs climb walls for safety.  Clearly they are more frightened of hedgehogs than me.

 

Mind you, no one likes slugs.  Not only do they eat our garden flowers but they are so very different from us.  You probably don’t realise, for example, that their blood is blue.  Rather than using iron to carry oxygen in their blood, they use copper.  And while they prefer mating to fertilise eggs, if needs be they can self-fertilise, which is truly weird.

 

However, daughter #2 has chosen the role of being the family slug advocate.  To quote her WhatsApp:  “Our last Eco Spotlight was celebrating snails and slugs. Do you know that they are our most important pollinators in the rain?  If you’re not going to poison caterpillars then slugs and snails are in the same boat.” But there again, she does not have dahlias. 

 

The sad truth is that we need slugs more than slugs need us.  Slugs perform essential cleaning and recycling roles, feeding on decaying organic matter to break this down and put the nutrients back into carbon and nitrogen cycles. There would be an awful lot of dead stuff lying around if it weren’t for slugs.

 

Now I’m over halfway in this blog and I left it until now to discover that slugs are not mentioned in the Bible, not even once.  The usual pests – locusts, maggots, moths.  But not slugs.   There’s not even a prohibition in Leviticus, for example, on eating slugs.  Like in my garden, they’re nowhere to be found. 

 

However, it needs to be said that the writers of the Bible never actually label creatures of any kind as bad.  They may make you ritually unclean – but that is something else.  It seems that they had a sophisticated understanding of what we call ecology, every creature has their place in God’s wonderful creation.  It’s all a matter of balance.

 

So the Bible opens with God creating a world which is thoroughly interconnected and interdependent.  Here Adam is made out of the soil to care for and further God’s gift of ecological richness.  However, he with Eve fails in their fundamental vocation and essentially want to create their own world where they would rival their Creator. 

 

I’m not sure whether this is significant but when God expels Adam to a lifetime of “painful toil” he includes “thorns and thistles” but not insects or molluscs as the spoiling his cultivation.

 

And ever since then we have brought disaster to God’s beautiful and balanced creation, bringing our own desolation and destruction. There’s me and my slug killing stick, of course, but according to the World Wildlife Fund there is an ever-accelerating rate of biodiversity loss, now estimated to be between 1000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.

 

It is no surprise then that Jesus in his mission to restore harmony and coherence to the creation which was made through him so often refers us to nature, its patterns and rhythms, even the sheer beauty of God’s world.

 

As ever, his cross and resurrection victory changes everything. And in God’s glorious future,  his new creation unites heaven and earth in a new way where his will is done. 

 

So will there be slugs in heaven?   As part of God’s wonderful creation, they have every right to be there, along with hedgehogs. 

 

But as the prophet Isaiah foretells there will be a very different relationship between all of God’s creatures, including us.  “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

 

What an amazing hope!

 

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