Extract from an e-mail to Carolyn:

We appear to have a major problem with slugs. Whenever it rains, thousands of them appear on our patio… and it rains here an awful lot.

But I've come up with a brilliant solution to the problem: the slug-slinger. In truth, this is nothing more than a common or garden orange pooper-scooper, bought for 99p from the local supermarket. It's shaped like a child's seaside spade, but with a criss-cross framework of slats. The slats make it ideal for slug-slinging, as they cut down on air resistance, as well as giving the slug less to stick onto.

Slug-slinger in action
The slug-slinger.

By a process of trial and error, I have worked out the best method for using the slug-slinger. First, find your slug, then tap it lightly with the slug-slinger. This causes the slug to shrink its body size and to grow more rigid (both of which make it easier to sling). Next, scoop the slug onto the end of the slinger. This is fairly easy, as slugs thoughtfully provide their own mucus adhesive. Next, run down to the bottom of the garden and catapult the slug into the adjacent field. The first time I tried this, I got the trajectory all wrong and ended up sending the slug in a loping parabola, way too high, so that it came down SPLAT! on top of the wall. I have since worked out that it's all in the wrist action: aim low and snap sharply with your wrist at the end of your catapulting motion. This helps dislodge the slicky slug from the scooper and gives you an extra three or four yards' range. With any luck, you can propel the slug a good dozen yards or so into the field.It gives a whole new meaning to the term slinging in the rain.

I don't think slugs have a homing instinct, but I'm keeping my eyes peeled to see if any of them try to sneak back over the wall.


I'm off to do some more slinging.

Postscript: I later realised that, once I have slung the slugs, but before they hit the ground, they could be referred to as ICBMs (inter-campal ballistic molluscs). Since writing the above, I have also developed a second technique for use while out on Slug Patrol: Slug Flicking (I had to be careful how I typed that!). This involves using the slug-slinger to flick the slug straight off the ground over the garden wall. You can't flick slugs as far as you can fling them, but the technique comes in handy when there are a lot of slugs around and you are pressed for time. Incidentally, my slug-slinging record now stands at about 25 yards, but it didn't really count: it was wind-assisted.

See also: BBC News - Robot slugkiller ready to roll

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.

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