river talk

Slug love

By SANDY LONG
Posted 9/16/20

Many of the species of wildlife we are fortunate to co-exist with in the Upper Delaware River region are beautiful, awe-inspiring or just plain interesting. From the majesty of the black bears and …

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river talk

Slug love

Posted

Many of the species of wildlife we are fortunate to co-exist with in the Upper Delaware River region are beautiful, awe-inspiring or just plain interesting. From the majesty of the black bears and white-tailed deer roaming our forests, to the ephemeral bursts or dabs of color drifting across the landscape in the forms of butterflies and birds—sharing this place is mostly an interface with wonder.

Even the humble slug, whose numbers clearly outnumber ours, offers the opportunity to experience the marvelous if one keeps an open mind and an eye trained on the ground.

Recently, I witnessed a display of what appeared to be intense rapture in a circular formation of slugs on the stone walkway around my house. Thanks to the motion light that blinked on as I rounded the corner, the two slugs engaged in the act of reproduction narrowly avoided becoming a small puddle of slimy mush as I stepped around them. Instead, their passionate display became a photo opportunity for this column.

Slugs are terrestrial gastropod molluscs that lack shells (except for some species which have internalized a remnant of their shells). This generally differentiates them from snails (gastropods that feature a coiled shell).

A slug moves about by rhythmically contracting its foot (the flat bottom side of its body) while secreting a layer of mucus that helps to shield the foot, protect the slug from predators by increasing its slipperiness and distastefulness, provide useful information in finding a mate and preserve its watery body from becoming dessicated.

While most slug species are harmless to humans, some are considered agricultural pests and therefore targeted with various controls. Gain a new appreciation for slugs by taking time to observe their fascinating behaviors with a slow walk following rain.

slugs, molluscs

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