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In praise of - slugs.

Here we go again.

We get the first little signs of spring – the odd bunch of snowdrops – and immediately the prejudice starts. The slug prejudice. The slugism.

There was a bit of it in a gardening column the other day. The message was: slugs must die. Suddenly, hydrangea management sounds like military invasion. Seek and destroy, said one hysterical woman. Disgusting, said another. Slimy. Foul. (You should hear what slugs say about us. If there is one thing slugs can't stand it's the sight of a human being, with its horrible, unslimy skin, scurrying across the ground on its two feet. Uggh.)

The point is: we should learn to love slugs, to overcome our prejudice. Last summer, I stood in my garden and watched a procreation show put on by a couple of limax maximus. They mate at the end of a long, self-created line of slime and it's one of the most fascinating displays nature has to offer. And yet we judge it. We think slugs are disgusting and snails are charming. Why? What's a snail anyway? It's just a prudish slug. And why all this enthusiasm from gardeners about killing slugs? Gardeners know nothing about slugs. Only their own disgust. They don't know that slugs always return to their own homes; that slugs can perform positive functions such as eating mould.

Gardeners also seem willing to kill for the most trivial of reasons: to protect their plants. I'm a gardener but I wouldn't dream of killing slugs even when they decimate my beautiful hostas. It doesn't matter. Life is more important than beauty.

And finally, ask yourself this: what does it tell us about ourselves that we're willing to kill so indiscriminately? Doesn't it show us up a bit? Doesn't it prove it is the human, not the slug, who is a little creepy, a little slimy, a little disgusting?

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Beauty

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