GOOD SLUG IN THE FOREST: This terrestrial gastropod mollusc or slug 🙂 crossed my path the other day. Now granted, if you are a gardener, you might not like them much. And if you are not a gardener you can probably take them or leave them. But whatever your position re slug love, if you regard them dispassionately, I think you might have to agree that they are quite wonderful to behold. The delicate chocolate brown optical tentacles, the small sensory tentacles the shiny mantle akin to a bodice, and the tail a lot like a flouncy skirt. With a bit of imagination you can easily see a dowdily dressed, chubby ballroom dancer, lying on her tummy with her skirt flowing behind her.
For slug anatomy:
This link will take you to someone who really loves slugs – lots of very interesting information: http://www.paddling.net/sameboat/archives/sameboat469.html
BAD SLUG IN THE GARDEN: So in the forest they are pretty indeed but when they are in a garden I also don’t feel the love. There is no pretty name for the creatures outside of the woods. I remember a particularly bad summer when the slugs got my tagetes. Now tagetes are not my favourite plant, aesthetically, and certainly I cannot stand the scent of them, but they do flower throughout the summer and have really brightly coloured petals and long lasting flowers, both characteristics n their favour. You can also eat the flowers although I cannot say I ever felt the urge…….
That summer I grew the plants from seed, and when they were big enough, I transplanted them carefully until I had a whole flower bed full of tiny seedlings.
The next morning when I went to check about 80% of the seedlings were “stalklings” with slime all over them. I vowed revenge and to protect the last plants standing. So out went the saucers with beer and yeast and sugar, and more tagetes seedlings. The next day we had a repeat experience with more “stalklings” and it was 2:0 for the slugs. And I was getting angry and upset in equal amounts. So that night out I went with a torch and a pot of boiling water and did some stalking (sorry couldn’t help it) of my own. I felt guilty and a bit surprised at the vehemence of my hunting instincts, I do admit that I was glad it was dark though. So far from being what many might suspect is a peaceful past-time for sissies, old ladies in hunter wellies and straw hats and middle aged English rose lovers, gardening is a hobby that involves real life and death decisions, albeit not regarding your own life, unless you chose to eat your digitalis but that would be evolution, therefore your own silly fault, and not gardening. A gardener needs to decide whether to uproot or not, to replace or not, to try to save or not, whether the pest numbers are low enough to be ignored or need dealing with and whether it’s time to go out with some boiling hot water and a torch. Indeed if you garden and have nurtured plants from seed only to see them brutally ravaged in a single night with not a leaf to their name, you have the unique opportunity to learn a surprising, and sometimes disquieting amount about your protective instincts.