Slimy Little Weirdo
While many of our local slugs love to nibble on our baby garden plants, the Leopard Slug, ‘Limax maximus’ has its own diet. They are detritivores, eating decaying plant matter as well as other slugs, making them a gardener’s friend!
While the European native Leopard Slug is considered an invasive species to the US, we can’t help but be fascinated by its amazing habits! Consider its mating habits, if you haven’t already. These slugs are not only hermaphroditic, with each partner walking (slime-ing) away from their romantic endeavors pregnant with around 200 fertilized eggs, but they are also thrill seekers. In the evening, once they meet up with a suitable partner (I must admit I don’t know the criteria used by slugs to find partners) they take a romantic stroll together to the ledge of a rock or tree branch where they then lower themselves down on a rope made of their own slime and proceed to have marital relations while dangling in the air.
All slugs are gastropods, distantly related to mollusks like squids, mussels, snails, and oysters. The leopard slug is one of the few that still pay homage to their lineage and have a vestigial shell, about the size and shape of a fingernail, located just under their skin. If you are ever in a slug caressing mood, you can actually feel the hidden shell by giving the slug a gentle massage.
Also, they are edible.
Janet Douberly is a slug masseuse at Downtown Greens.
This article was first published in the January 2024 edition of Front Porch Magazine. To view the full publication visit www.frontporchfredericksburg.com