As I cleaned out my decomposed mushroom logs last week I spotted a common, plant destroying slug that was wandering across one of the logs.
Well actually I didn’t notice the slug until after I laid my hand right in the middle of a trail of its disgusting slime. No wonder these garden pests are so detested. I never realized how annoying that slime could be, or just how difficult it is to wash off of your hands.
Beauty, Grace, and Power… From a Lowly Slug?
I normally write articles offering tips on how to eliminate garden slugs and snails, but in this case the slug was far away from the garden and I was somewhat mesmerized by the size, beauty, and movement that this creature displayed as it traveled merrily along in its own little world without the slightest clue that it was being watched.
In a strange way it reminded me of an animal that you would expect to discover on a jungle safari more so than in a backyard garden. Its appearance and proportions brought to mind a huge, powerful, boa constrictor, while its markings and patterns made me think of a tiger or a spotted leopard.
Built for Stealth not for Speed
Even the way that this stealthy slug slowly and methodically felt its way around and explored its surroundings reminded me of a lion on the prowl for prey. I don’t know what its mission was, but I would hate to be the object of attention at the end of this journey.
Turtles and snails aren’t exactly known for their speed and agility but it was kind of surprising to note how much ground this slug covered in a short period of time as it weaved in and out, and over and about everything in its path. It found a clever way to safely traverse every gap, barrier, or roadblock that it came upon.
The Next Best Thing to Invisibility
It was also pretty amazing to notice how well it was camouflaged and blended into the background of the debris and litter scattered over the ground. I may not have even seen it in the first place if I hadn’t gotten slimed, and anytime I walked away and returned to the area I had to look closely to discover where it had maneuvered to.
And again, this is one super sized slug that we’re talking about, there’s nothing in the photo to provide a sense of scale but thinking back it must have been close to a foot long… well alright… but seriously, it had to be well over five inches from head to toe, not to mention how wide around it was!
Considering that slugs don’t have a shell and couldn’t outrun molasses, that camouflage may be the only thing keeping this slab of escargot from becoming dinner to birds and other animals looking for a tasty snack. Whatever the reason this critter sure seemed pretty confident and care free the way it wandered around in broad daylight.
A Moment in the Life of a Garden Slug
So, can you tell that I was really taken in and impressed by this common and rather ordinary garden slug? Okay, okay, so what if it doesn’t take much to capture my attention and interest, but come on; you have to admit that that is one awesome looking creeping critter even from the photo! (click on the photos for a close up view)
Sure my reaction and this story may have been completely different if I had stumbled upon that same slug venturing anywhere near one of the vegetable garden’s raised beds. In that situation I doubt that our paths would have crossed and parted in the same manner that they did.
But this turned out to be one of those unexpected encounters where I was able to gain a bit of respect and a better understanding by taking a closer look at something from a slightly different perspective.
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