Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Story of the Not So Simple Slug

News of the oncoming storm motivated me to clean up a garden patch that’s been weedy for a long time.  In pulling up overgrown rocks I noticed a 7 inch slug moving slowly over a flat rock. My first reaction: Eeeeeek!! Impulse to toss it, kill it, destroy it, (or run). But having read & loved The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey I engaged my brain, & understood that it wasn’t going to hurt me. Fear turned to curiosity. After twice going round the surface of a flat rock it slithered down to a lower rock & then crawled there for awhile. Curiosity turned to compassion & even remorse: I suspected that I had uprooted it from its home underneath one of the rocks.That awareness came from having read Suburban Safari by Hannah Holmes. The suburban lawn is a complex habitat chock-full of interdependent life forms!

So I decided to get the facts, ma’am: The slug’s silver slime helps it to crawl & protects it from sharp objects. The slime trails guide it back to it’s tunnels (except in this case I had probably wiped out his trail & maybe his tunnel, oh dear...) the slug has light sensitive eyes on the end of the long tentacles, but it mostly relies on smell to get around. They need dampness & could dehydrate if caught in windy weather. I was relieved to know that the last time I had checked on “my” slug (compassion turned to possessiveness, interesting...) he was back in the soil, so during the winds of hurricane Sandy’s edge he was probably protected.

Just the facts, m’am, but facts are dependent on who is presenting them & why. I watched a film made by a slug poison bait company. I now learned that the slug is my enemy because it eats farmers’ crops. My protectiveness turned to hatred & brought me back around to my initial fear. 

And now? I’m still glad I met the slug & don’t hate it & still find it fascinating. 

What a complex world we live in, though, even in relation to a simple slug.


  1. I enjoyed this a lot. I was moving a clay pot a couple weeks ago and under it..since its turned upside down for a birdbath...I found a huge banana slug. It looked almost like a whale in shape. ewwwwwww..But I left it alone because there wasn't any plants I cared about around it. Now I wish I had thought to draw it. Duh..Here I journal and forget that. Thanks for a great post and your comment today.

  2. I'm the official bug-remover in the house. I can identify.

  3. Being at Ft. Williams must have been excited.

  4. What a lucky slug being saved, I guess you don't have a 'potager' enjoy your day.

  5. Glad to hear you are OK after the storm.
    The slag was lucky to meet you. I wonder, do they survive winter?

  6. are there any farmers’ crops other than in yr fridge?
    Maybe this is an urban slug?
    live and let live..
    Maybe you could leave some carotte rapee?
    It could be francais...

  7. Slugs are not my favorite animals but they have a right to a (happy) slug life. They must have a purpose here on earth, like dung-beetles, red ants and other insects, so why destroy them? And it's also a question of reverence for life, isn't it?

  8. I looked for and found your slug post! Great thoughts.

    You have a gift for field sketching. I look forward to seeing more of it.


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