Slugs

In this blog, you will learn more about slugs than you ever wanted to know.

Perhaps just the title will cause some of my faithful readers, all ten of you, to turn your heads, and move onto something pleasant and cute.

It is not uncommon for me to come upon a small slug in my garden; they love my strawberries. I tend to just toss them out of the garden and eventually I’ll get the slug slime off of my hands. Upon further reading I have learned that I ought to “handle slugs with gloves as they may carry parasites potentially harmful to human health.”

I’m going to guess that the one’s I typically come across are “Deroceras reticulatum, gray field slug” but I don’t know. Maybe by the time I finish this blog, I might know.

According to Oregon State University, “they (the slug and not OSU, at least not in this context) generally have a bad reputation, slugs. It’s the slime thing. And probably that they are basically a stomach on one large foot. Spineless, rapacious, how can one like these loathsome creatures? They do have a vital role to play in their place and they can be quite fascinating. Slugs (or shell-less snails) occupy the phylum Mollusca in the class known as Gastropoda. We are interested, in this case, in the slugs on land, the pulmonates, which have lungs rather than gills. Unlike their brethren the snails, slugs can occupy an ecological range without rich calcium deposits required to build shells. Of course, the down side to running naked of shell is the risk of desiccation. Thus the attraction to moist climates such as found in the Pacific Northwest.”

But I’m not a malacologist and only use the layman’s name of California Banana Slug. Ariolimax columbianus Family: Ariolimacidae. I just learned that the Banana slug is known for agnawing their mate’s penis off after mating.  I didn’t even know slugs had a penis. 

Wired magazine wrote that the Leopard Slug has such a large penis that they mate hanging upside down.

Great Grey / Leopard Slug {Limax maximus} mating, hanging from a rope of mucus. These slugs are hermaphrodites, and can be seen here transferring sperm to one another through their male organs. Derbyshire, UK. August

I didn’t know slugs were hermaphrodites. I’m learning all sorts of things in this blog.

The little slugs, smaller than a penny don’t bother me, but when I came across this monster, I sort of freaked out. I didn’t scream, but all of my attention was drawn to this massive beast as it lumbered towards my garden. I certainly wasn’t going to let it out of my sight.

First I had to find something to pick it up with. Using a leaf as a shield, I was surprised at how hefty it was and was impressed at the suction it had on the garden carpet.


 

 

I couldn’t remember the last time I came across a Terrestrial Mollusc, and I’m almost positive that I’ve never seen one in my garden before. And of course I had to study it. The slime trail was disgusting and fascinating at the same time. I wouldn’t be surprised if researchers aren’t trying to find out if the slime is good for something, maybe curing cancer or creating a indefensible barrier of some sort.

These are the times that I think that if there is such a thing as a God or Goddess, he or she or it had quite the sense of humor. Maybe the slugs believe God is a slug, though you have to have a brain to have these thoughts. I turned it over and everything that it had been crawling over was stuck to it. Slowly, it began to twist to right itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten minutes or so of inquisitive exploration, I was ready to move on. I could have flung it into the blackberries. I certainly wasn’t going to let it return back into the garden even if I am told they are not a garden pest.

I took it to the road. I was passing a neighbor and her little poodle and I stated, “Why did the slug cross the road?”  Ick was her response as I tossed it into the road. She told me that she carries a salt shaker with her when she goes into her garden. Sounds like a cruel way to kill something even something as disgusting as a slug. I figured that I’d let fate take a turn. Perhaps it made it off the road safely and if not death under a tire would be quick.

 

 

 

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