Posts Tagged 'slugs'

Slug in the Greens

In the Japanese turnip greens, purchased in Brooklyn but sourced in Lancaster PA. Perhaps one of the threeband slugs of the genus Amibigolimax.

Sautéed the greens after a good washing, with some lettuce, garlic, and hot pepper flakes. The turnips themselves, which are quite small, were peeled and chopped up for a bean salad.

Snigel

We had wet weather in Sweden, and slugs like nothing better. Rather more so than birds, that’s for sure. Arion vulgaris was everywhere. These seem to be the invasive — “the Spanish slug”– but it gets complicated.
Arion lusitanicus has also been used for this species. This journal article suggests it’s actually native to Central EuropeAre we on firmer ground with this one? Arion ater, the black slug (although it also comes in colors ranging from white to red…). A little more on the confusing Scandinavian slug scene (bet that’s not in most guide books).
And is this one, a good 6″ long, a variation on Limax maximus, the leopard slug?

(Snigel seems to mean both snail and slug. Correct me if I’m wrong. There will be snails…)

You can see the slugs and the trees

treesA brief trip to some of the wet rainforests of the northwest was a revelation.

There will be more to come, but shall we begin with an atypical sublimity?AriolimaxBanana slug, Ariolimax genus,perhaps A. columbianus, Pacific Banana Slug? There are two other species, and differentiating them sounds a bit gross. About 4″ long.AriolimaxThese are named for the ripe-banana spotting. Here’s another Ariolimax, munching mushrooms, of which there were plenty.

Great Wall Addendum

Limax maximusLeopard Slugs (Limax maximus). An introduced species, thinking about making more of themselves. And what a process that is!

Mollusks

Some of the highlights of our gastropod crawl in Central Park on Monday and Tuesday: Helisoma trivolvisHelisoma trivolvis, called the Ramshorn or Three-whorled Rams Horn, a fresh-water species fished out of the Meer. This specimen, the only one found, was 1/2″ or 14mm long.Oxychilus cellariusThe ground was quite dry, so we knew that land snails would be a challenge to find. They like moisture and the night; the sun is their enemy. But we did see numerous Oxychilus cellarius, the Common Cellar Snail, under damp wood. This is a species that favors human habitation, as its names suggest. Originally from Europe, these are quite small: the largest was 8mm, most were around 5mm. Note the translucent shell when the animal, a glistening blue-gray, is fully extended outside. Here’s another look at these hard-to-photograph critters:Oxychilus cellarius

Also clinging to the dampness of old pieces of wood were the slugs, hiding out from the day:Limax maximusLimax maximus, the Leopard slug, another European import. I’ve seen them up to four inches long, which goes towards another of their common names, the Giant Garden Slug. One fearless student had one wrapped around her finger. Ok, it was a latex-gloved finger, but still, she and everybody else thought it was pretty damn fascinating, tentacle eyes advancing, breathing hole visible.ArionAnother slug, Arion subfuscus, which are reputed to taste absolutely terrible. About an inch long here, but all the slugs, and snails, are remarkably stretchy creatures. Slugs can contact to a sixth of their full length; if I could do this I’d be down to about a foot high in my boots.

Gastropods, you will no doubt remember, are a class within the phylum Mollusca, which is named after the Latin word for the “soft things.” utamaroWhat? Well, this stylized octopus — another mollusk — meets Utamaro-inspired ukiyo/manga paste-up was not found in Central Park, but at the end of the day on Smith Street.

Not at all sluggish

I know you’ve all been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first slug of the year in the Back 40, my concrete backyard. Well, here it is. (There were probably others, but as mostly nocturnal creatures, they’re hard to see.) The leopard slug, Limax maximus, slime-delivered. Disliked by gardeners, for they eat greens; loved by everything from owls to turtles to moles,, which eat them. For more on leopard slugs, check out my earlier post, which includes the now notorious David Attenborough Slug Sex Scene, banned in 20 countries and four U.S. states.

All Creatures Great and Small

Mostly small. And mostly slimy (cue Monty Python).

More tidying up in the Back 40 in preparation for winter. My backyard is a Brutalist expanse of poured concrete, so I use numerous pots for planters. All were salvaged from the street. There’s also a found-on-the-sidewalk wooden box, festively decorated with painted balloons. While moving this the other day, I found these creatures beneath it. Generally shunned by the dainty among us, these creatures of the shady damp — slug, snail, pillbug — are key to decomposition and recycling nutrients, and thus making the world go ’round and ’round. An earthworm, three more of the disk snails pictured in a previous post, a centipede, some smaller pillbugs, and several way-too-small-to-figure-out things were under there as well.
A closer look at the Common pillbug, Armadillidium vulgare, also known as common woodlouse or roly-poly. When disturbed or otherwise bummed out, these roll up into a tight armored ball. Love the overlapping plates here. These are not insects, btw; they’re crustaceans.
I find this land snail strangely beautiful: the contrast of amber shell and blue grey gastropod itself. The shell is about 1/4th-inch across, so bigger than the disks, and much smoother. The umbilicus, which is on the other side of the shell, is very deep (like Jimmy Joyce’s Omphalos). I think it’s a member of the family of glass snails, Oxychilidae. It looks like it might be Oxychilus draparnaldi, but they are supposed to be rather larger, so I’m not sure.

“We must not feel a childish disgust at the investigations of the meaner animals. For there is something marvelous in all natural things.” — Aristotle

Another Back 40 Gastropoda

Leopard slug, Limax maximus. This species is native to Europe, but is now found in many other parts of the world. I wasn’t aware until just now that this member of the Gastropoda actually does have a “shell,” only it is internal, underneath the shield, which is that spotted portion at the top front end. I think the shell itself is that obvious hump there at the right end of the shield. (Um, no, I didn’t touch it to find out.)
Last year in Inwood Park at the northern tip of Manhattan, during a night hike, we watched these things mate. Whoa! Wikipedia has some images and drawings of this. I’d already seen the episode of Life in the Underbrush that showed this, so I was prepared, but still, to see it live was amazing. Let’s let the inimitable David Attenborough (OK, he’s actually pretty imitable) take it from the top:

There are more things in heaven and earth, readers, than dreamed of in our philosophies.


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