Wednesday, 18th July 2012
Slugs the wildlife you love to hate!
Slugs are snails without shells. They are members of a class of animals called Gastropods and are unique within this class as all of the others have shells (Molluscs). However, while much is known about the snails of Waterford as a baseline survey was carried out in the late 1970's - I don't do snails in any serious way (they are a bit fast for me now!) but incidental information has been added to the list since that time. The same cannot be said for Slugs. Different species may be found in every damp part of Waterford and in 2012, this is everywhere! Slugs cause a bit of a problem for amateur field researchers as unlike snails which can be readily identified by the shape, size and colour of the conical shell and are easily collected and stored, this is not the case with slugs. Most have to be sorted-out from each other by microscopic examination in a laboratory and then preserved in alcohol which affects the pigmentation and they lose their colour. These facilities are only available to professional researchers and as there is no such professional activity in Waterford, little work has been done on them here.
The professionals also have a problem trying to sort-out Slugs and this has existed for hundreds of years. For instance, the Common Garden Slug so well known to the gardeners of Waterford was first identified in the mid 1700's and named Arion hortensis by a famous Swedish naturalist known as Linnaeus. This name was OK for nearly fifty years. Then in 1819, a scientist named Ferussac said, ‘hold on a minute, my Common Garden Slugs are different to those of Linnaeus but he then confirmed the original name of Arion hortensis on the basis that it was merely a variety of the same species. In 1868, a scientist by the name of Mabille said that his garden snails were distinctly different to the other two, so much so and he now named it Arion distinctus. Then, would you believe that history repeated itself yet again in 1979 when another scientist called Davies decided that his Common Garden Slugs were different to all of the others and he named it as a new species, Arion owenii! So now we had three Common Garden Slugs instead of one! It is long known that those who classify animals and plants (Taxonomists) fall into two main groups, Lumpers and Splitters. The business of the Common Garden Slug is a clear case of Splitters at their worst. The Slug literature is therefore confusing as any of these names may be used for the same animal though it sometimes uses the name Arion hortensis agg. thus recognising that this is an aggregate name that includes the other names.
But the slugs don't care! They happily breed and live to demolish the plants in your garden and die, sometimes very suddenly. Perhaps the only good thing that might be said of them as they are a major food source for many more acceptable species. Hedgehogs devour vast quantities of slugs and members of the Thrush family raise nests of young on a diet of these gastropods. What do you do to control them? Use repellents such as dry powdery materials (soot) or spiny or prickly matter. Set traps such as dishes of beer or put the rubber gloves on and collect them after dark. What do you not do? Do not use slug pellets as poisoned slugs and snails are eaten by Song Thrushes, Blackbirds and Hedgehogs. The poison is then transmitted to them and they die.
An aside to all of this is that slugs and snails leave slimy trails behind them as they move about. This is attacked and cleaned-up by slime moulds. So far, 22 different species of slug have been identified in Waterford but surprisingly, 58 species of slime mould have also been identified in the county!
Applying for a student grant
Question: I'm leaving school and hope to go to college this autumn. How do I apply for a student grant?
Answer: Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) is the single awarding authority for all new grant applications for the 2012/13 academic year. Up to now, all students applied to their local authority or VEC for their grants (and continuing students will still apply to these bodies.) For students starting their course of study in 2012/3, SUSI provides a centralised, easy to use, online system of application.
You should apply online through studentfinance.ie soon as you can. You will need your Personal Public Service Number (PPS Number) to apply. However, you do not need to know the exact course you will be attending. Do not wait to apply until you receive an offer of a place or enrol in college.
When your application has been submitted online, your eligibility will be determined. If you are eligible, SUSI will post out a provisional grant approval and a personalised list of the supporting documents you must return in order to complete your application. Only submit photocopies of supporting documentation, not originals.
When you return all the necessary supporting documentation and confirm your acceptance of a place on an approved course, your student grant will be awarded. Your grant will be paid on a monthly basis (subject to confirmation of attendance) directly into your designated Irish bank account.
If you have any queries about the application process or the Student Grant Scheme in general, you can contact the SUSI Support Desk, which operates from 9am to 10pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 6pm on Saturdays.
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
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Google AlertWhen a company which has it's European Headquarters here in Ireland is called 'evil' and 'immoral' by M.P.s in The House of Commons you tend to sit up and take notice. The particular company that was being referred to was Google and the reason it had enraged M.P.s in London was because even though it has a big operation there and conducts a lot of business there it pays no corporate tax. It does this by having all of its financial transactions finished here in Ireland. And the company here is …
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