November 2011 - Leopard Slug


Taken in Lin's garden  25th August 2011

I can’t believe how fast the year has gone and what strange weather. It is now October – and we have a cowslip blooming in the garden! Cowslips are spring flowers and blooming should finish in May!

I know that slugs are not a popular subject but I can’t resist telling you about the interesting slug I found in the garden at the end of August. We have an aviary and every morning I found the bird seed was covered in slime – rather a tell tale sign of a slug. I eventually tracked the slug to its day time resting place – under a brick outside the aviary- and found a leopard slug. The leopard slug is large, being over 10cm or 4 inches in length (they can grow to twice this length), beige/grey in colour with dark brown/black longitudinal markings all over its body, rather like the markings on a leopard. The exact pattern on the body is variable from slug to slug.

One of the most interesting facts about this species of slug is that it is a carnivore and hunts down other slugs with a reported top speed of 6 inches/minute. They also eat other slugs’ eggs. Reports suggest they may actually lead to a decrease in other slug species and as they have a tendency to cannibalism, they may limit their own numbers. Beneficially, and in addition to fresh slug, they also feed on dead plant matter, carrion and fungi. All considered, maybe this particular species of slug could be thought of as an asset to gardens and should be protected in garden areas! There is always a downside, however, and you will still find this particular species of slug eating young or tasty plants (or indeed bird seed in our case).


 Taken in Lin's garden 25th August 2011

 

I have to admit that this slug continues to live in our garden. I put it in the compost bin, and it chose to stay there rather than exhibit the homing instinct representative of so many slug species. It has not gone back to its previous home near the aviary, and we no longer have seed covered in slime. Leopard slugs live for about 2 to 3 years. I hope it (the slug is hermaphrodite exhibiting both male and female gender characteristics) may deplete the garden of numerous slugs before it goes to slug heaven.

 

 

 

 

lingibson@bawburghvillage.co.uk

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