Who Said Slugs Don’t Like Salt?

Large Red Slug Arion (Arion) rufus

This is the Large Red Slug (Arion (Arion) rufus), and its slimy kind really like to set up camp in my garden to chomp on my plants. Now most people know if you want to reduce the slug population in your garden you can dig a hole in the ground and bury a small container of beer whereby the slugs will be attracted, fall in and will drown their sorrows, and themselves in the process. Another way is to sprinkle salt on them where they will meet a most horrible gooey death. However, contrary to them dying by salt, I came across this one munching on a crisp this afternoon on my back decking, which I thought was quite an odd thing to witness, to say the least.

Large Red Slug Arion (Arion) rufus

This was a beef and onion crisp, yes it was salted, and it could not get enough of it. It devoured the lot, and mopped up any remaining crumbs in one sitting. After desert (too disgusting to mention) it casually slid off between a narrow crack in the decking.

Large Red Slug Arion (Arion) rufus

Large Red Slug Arion (Arion) rufus

September 2017, Staffordshire, England.

Large Red Slug

Arion (Arion) rufus

I often see these in my garden after dark, or after heavy rain when they come out to feed or look for a mate. It can be one of those pests which just love to munch through your garden, but sometimes visiting frogs and toads help to keep them down. I noticed for the first time when I was photographing this particular individual how when he or she was bunched up to protect itself, it began rocking from side to side, which can be a characteristic of this species.

I find with this type of slimy creature, especially after rain, you have to be conscious of the light and how you use flash as you can get many blown highlights which does not always look nice. I used the natural light in most of these images, but of course a good flash diffuser could also be used if the area was shaded or the day overcast.

This medium-sized to very large slug is also called the ‘Great Red Slug’, ‘European Red Slug’, amongst other names. It has a differing range of colour forms, from yellow, orange, brown and rarely black.  It has a striped fringe along the foot which is characteristically brighter than the body colour, usually bright orange or orange-red. The sole is often paler than the body sides. The tubercles are very course. The mucus is thick and sticky, and usually clear, although it may have an orange tinge. Length 60 to 140mm. Similar to the Large Black Slug (Arion (Arion) ater), which is the duller of the two species, with a darker foot fringe.

They feed on carrion, dead and alive plant material, and fungi. They hide under rocks or logs during the day, and come out during spells of rain or at night to feed.

It is found in many differing sites where there is plentiful vegetation like woodlands, fields and gardens. Most likely native, common and widespread in southern Britain.

Photograph of Large Red Slug (Arion (Arion) rufus), taken July 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.