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Slugs on the Walkway

 

It has been raining a lot lately so, once again, we have a crowd of slugs on the brick walkway surrounding the building. Usually we have slugs and snails, but for some reason the snails are absent this time.

I actually prefer the snails because at least they have shells to provide some cover. Slugs just slither across the bricks, naked and slimy, leaving a slow trail of glistening muck behind them. Cricket is fascinated by them. She will walk up to the slugs and carefully sniff them, like the scientist she is. Neither dog ever steps on a slug, or tries to lick, or god forbid, eat one. I’ve never seen any of the robins pick up a slug either, the way they dig up the worms and carry their squiggly brown bodies in their mouths as they fly away.

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“They’re so squishy, Mommy.”

I decided to do some research to see if I could figure out why the snails are absent this time around. The only real difference between slugs and snails is that snails have shells, like a house they carry with them. Without shells to carry around, slugs can squeeze into smaller, and skinnier spaces to hide. When attacked, slugs can contract their bodies, making themselves harder and more compact, but normally they have soft brownish/gray bodies, and they vary in size from a quarter of an inch to two inches and longer.

(I want to warn you that there are slug pictures coming up, and even the two photographers – aka me and Mom – got a little nauseous during the photo shoot.)

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A camera shy, daytime slug.

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More brazen night time slugs.

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Note the goop trail.

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Follow the leader.

Both snails and slugs like to eat vegetation, so they are ever present in gardens, eating up plants and fruits, and even the roots and stems that keep the plant alive. Some people turn the tables on those slugs and snails and actually eat them. Blech.

They are both very slow moving creatures, so that as they cross the walkway at night they are likely to be squashed or crunched under my feet, making me feel like a murderer, and totally grossed out. There have been a number of times when I wasn’t sure what I was looking at up ahead, especially in the dark, because we have a lot of small dogs living here now, and many of the slugs are about the size of a small dog’s poop. I wouldn’t want to step on that either.

I still have no idea where the snails went this season, but one of the articles I read mentioned that snails, because of their shells, can hibernate, both in winter and summer, by retracting into their shells and creating a mucus plug in the opening, to keep in the moisture and keep out the small insects that would try to invade their sleep. Maybe all of the local snails are sleeping in dark hidden places in the backyard, and leaving it to the slugs to eat up all the vegetation they can, until the weather cools down again. Maybe snails have as much trouble with the heat as I do.

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I wonder if that house is heavy.

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Maybe they could get some in-shell air-conditioning?

In the meantime, the dogs and I have to do a lot of hopping and swerving to avoid stepping on the slugs, and I’ve tried to find something to like about them, since they are temporarily my neighbors and we have to live in such close proximity with one another. Other than the fact that they are very easy to take pictures of, because of their slow motion lives, the mucus trails they leave behind can be sort of pretty, like glittery graffiti.

That’s something.

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“Really?”

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“No, not really.”

 

 

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

94 responses »

  1. ramblingsofaperforatedmind

    But rain is good, right?

    Reply
  2. You are very kind not to pour salt on them!

    Reply
  3. hairytoegardener

    You make me laugh as you try to find something positive in a slug. I’m glad your dogs don’t eat them. It’s my understanding, and I admit I don’t know everything, that snails and slugs can carry a lot of parasites. This is one reason I didn’t buy water snails for my water trough because the dogs drink from it. I wouldn’t want them to pick up a fluke or parasite. Maybe I’m just a bit too cautious. Maybe slug slime could be synthesized to make some sort of skin covering because when I get it on me, I have the hardest time getting it off.

    Reply
  4. Ok…this is a bridge too far. We have gigantic slugs from the rain lately, and I can’t possibly find a positive comment to make about them.
    Spike and Charly avoid them like the plague. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Ha! Always the pragmatic one, Cricket. You are adorable.

    Reply
  6. I don’t hate slugs (as much as I hate mosquitoes).

    Reply
  7. Rain? I haven’t seen rain here in 6 months. I never quite understood how a person could make bugs their life’s work. But, it happens. Interesting post.

    Reply
  8. Ick. Those are awfully big slugs! I used to play with them as a kid but at this point in my life I no longer find them charming.

    Reply
  9. Thanks for the warning but I was compelled to look. 🙂

    Reply
  10. You haven’t heard about the United Snails Union and its nationwide strike?

    Reply
  11. The snails just don’t look as gross as the slugs. What a difference a shell makes! 🙂

    Reply
  12. We see a lot of slugs here after much rain. Jernee sniffs them and huffs immediately afterwards. Great photos, Rachel!

    Reply
  13. You are a bold photographer…Slugs must not taste terribly good if birds and dogs disdain them!

    Reply
  14. I always let out a gasp when I see one, afraid I almost stepped on the thing!

    Reply
  15. I rarely see slugs in Missouri, but when we vacation in Marco Island, they are everywhere!

    Reply
  16. My dog would pretend not to see the slugs, just in case she thinks we would want her to eat them.
    My mom used to put shallow pans of beer in her garden to help get rid of the slugs.

    Reply
  17. Did you know that the Banana Slug (a bright yellow slug native to the California redwood forests) is the school mascot for the University of California at Santa Cruz? My son went to school there, and it was SO weird to hear “Yay, Slugs!” They love their slugs.

    I am not fond of slugs either, but they are curious creatures. Did you know that they can’t touch copper, because it will electrocute them? Something about the way the electricity travels in their bodies. If you want to keep the slugs away from a particular plant, you can put a “fence” of pennies around it and they dare not touch it.

    Another thing about slugs: they love beer. (Now I begin to see the college connection.) If you have slugs in the garden, and you don’t want them, you can put out a low dish of beer and they will get so excited about drinking it that they fall in and drown. Then of course some brave soul has to empty the pan. Ick.

    Reply
  18. In Northern California the slugs can be the size of a banana, as the previous comment said. If I pick them off a plant the slime is almost impossible to wash off my hands. And, nothing eats them. I think the slime keeps the birds and other animals away. I think there is some scientific work going on the develop a product like the slime for medical uses.

    Anyway, you made me laugh. Thank you.

    Reply
  19. One positive thing about slugs – you made a great post about them!

    Reply
  20. I’m fascinated by how your slugs look. The ones around here look way yuckier. Yours look interesting. 🙂 Luckily (or unluckily) we get mostly snails, a lot of snails…

    Reply
  21. I want to be kind to slugs but they are the bane of my life. I don’t think I could even photograph one. You are very brave. 🙂

    Reply
    • Poor slugs. They probably think they are providing a service by doing all of the weeding for the humans, it’s not their fault they have different ideas of what qualifies as a weed and what qualifies as a flower.

      Reply
  22. I’ve always thought slugs were just gross, but like snails. Maybe it is their “in your face” nakedness, and the fact that they are so much larger than all of the snails that I have ever encountered. I do wonder if they smell/taste nasty or if it is just the slime that makes them an undesirable snack. I do like that you did your best to find something good about them though.

    Reply
  23. I think I’d much prefer snails as well. Wouldn’t trust my dog to not do something disgusting with the slugs.

    Reply
  24. I had a Westie years ago. She and I were sitting out on our patio one evening where I noticed a slug climbing the brick wall next to me. Piper was at my feet. A few minutes later I looked over, slug was gone, Piper clearly had eaten it. I learned slugs carry fleas, Piper got tapeworm from it. Lesson learned. Be very glad Cricket and Butterfly are only curious!

    Reply
  25. Oh, those are the big sorts of slugs, too!

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  26. Great writeup

    Reply
  27. The problem about the beer solution is that I end up buying a beer I absolutely detest – and that hurts. For the bloodier-minded, it may be worth noting slugs gather to feed on dead slugs (at least, the species in my garden, the one that had the worst slug problem, did). Kill a few. Leave them. Wait…

    I was once walking a coastal long-distance trail and that day I’d failed to find any accommodation, so was walking into the night to find a suitable place to bed down under bushes. Thousands of snails had come out on to the narrow track between thorny vegetation. There was no way of avoiding them. CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH….That was not pleasant (not for me or the snails).

    Reply
  28. I’m with you on the slugs, Rachel. I don’t ever have any snails, but I have dozens of slugs that are almost identical to the ones you have – slimy trails and all. They gather by my garage door, where I have plants and a small brick wall. I find them on my door every morning. There is nothing worse than taking my dog, Chase out at night, and stepping on one in my bare feet. Great pictures.

    Reply
  29. I pick up earthworms on the sidewalk and put them back on the grass….

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  30. Slugs sure are yucky little things. We guess God has a reason for em though. Cricket and Butterfly don’t seem to matter either way.

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  31. This goes to show that something good can be found in most anything.

    Reply
  32. Ugh, slugs and snails. Plenty of them here too. I hate the sound if I by mistakes step on a shell snail 😦

    Reply
  33. I live about 50 miles north of Manhattan in Putnam County and have neither. However when I used to live in the Bronx we had snails. I also lived in San Jose, California where we had tons of slugs. Just a bit further south in Santa Cruz, they had banana slugs which are bright yellow and do resemble mini bananas. In fact, the banana slug is the mascot of UC Santa Cruz!

    Reply
  34. Great pics! I happen to be one of those people who thinks both snails and slugs are cute…must be the antennae!

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  35. At least they are not the little brown invasive slugs from France. Your slugs are different from what I’ve seen before, but may be native to your area. They much more closely resemble our native banana slugs than the invasive ones. The banana slugs are much bigger than your slugs though. The invasive brown ones have teeth which our natives don’t so once they move into an area the natives disappear. The natives are mostly only in wild areas and some parks now. Maybe yours have better luck if there are no invasive ones there. Then again I suppose those could also be invaders.

    Reply
  36. And here I thought I had escaped slugs when I moved to New England from Oregon. At least we don’t have them in Connecticut, and I am appalled that they exist in New York. As a kid we salted them and did other devious things to them. My one year old brother once walked up to my mother with half a slug in his hand and the other half in his mouth. As for that beer trick, our garden in Oregon was peppered with tuna cans full of beer out of which we emptied slugs every morning.

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  37. Hilarious and interesting! Thanks!

    Reply
  38. EEEEYUUCKKKKKKKK….those are HUGE slugs!!! Very interesting about the slugs though, I didn’t know they could contract and harden! My humom is very thankful that slugs and snails are one of the few things I don’t eat when we are walking in the trails. BOL!

    Reply
  39. GraiceLil Escapegoat

    yuck, hate ’em

    Reply
  40. I enjoyed reading your slug adventures. Like you, I’m not a fan of slugs.
    It’s interesting about snails being able to hibernate in winter or summer.
    Your girls are adorable. I think they’re the cutest scientists I’ve ever seen. 🙂

    Reply
  41. Slugs are gross. I was scooping the poop in the garden once and I actually found a slug sitting on top of a piece of poop. They also carry lungworm, which can be fatal to dogs – I have to put Advocate (a topical treatment) on Millie’s and Pearl’s necks every so often to protect them, as the slugs love to come into the house and leave trails everywhere. It’s a good thing Butterfly and Cricket don’t like to eat them – sensible girls!

    Reply
  42. Our garden supports three burgeoning Hosta plants (they’re in flower as I write) which form Freemason meeting halls for slugs and snails of all sizes and descriptions. Failing a regular and scientifically based clearance program our Hostas’ luxuriant growth can become a green filigree in a single night. My wife’s infallible answer is deportation – all that slimes becomes repatriated – in our case to the green area at the bottom of our little park. Do they come home? I like to think they do – after all, a slime’s gotta eat, hasn’t it? An epic journey begins with but a single squirm….

    Reply
    • That’s awesome! Next time I will have to check the slugs’ IDs to see if they too are in need of repatriation elsewhere. But I have a sneaking suspicion that the slugs, or at least their ancestors, arrived before I did.

      Reply
  43. Those photos of slugs! Yuck, yuck, yuck! But I enjoyed the post. 🙂

    Reply
  44. Interesting article! But I did get a bit squeamish looking at the slug photos.

    Reply

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