Who Has Been At The Bird Seed Again?

Large Red Slug Arion (Arion) rufus

I found this Large Red Slug (Arion (Arion) rufus) wallowing in the ground bird feeder this morning, and wallowing almost as if it did not have a care in the world. Later on when I took this image, it had finally slithered out the feeder, covered in seed. I am sure these eat more of the seed than the birds do.

September 2017, rear garden, Staffordshire, England.

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.

Forever Blowing Bubbles

Common Periwinkle Littorina littorea

I don’t know whether periwinkles blow bubbles or not like their terrestrial snail cousins, but this bubble was quite well placed until …

Common Periwinkle Littorina littorea

… it appeared to pop!

Common Periwinkle (Littorina littorea), West Shore, Llandudno, Wales.

About Slugs And Snails

Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum)
Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum)

People maybe surprised to know that molluscs consist of the second largest group of animals on earth after the insects, with some 100,000 species plus. Of this group the gastropods are the largest of the mollusc group, with more than 50,000 species globally. They  have been around for at least 500 million years. Their habitats can be marine, freshwater, estuarine, or terrestrial. Included in this class are the shell covered snails. limpets, sea hares, and the shell-less slugs.

Slug Eggs
Slug Eggs

The body of the snail consists of a large muscular foot, a visceral hump which is contained within an asymmetrically coiled shell (a univalve) a head with eyes and tentacles, and a mouth that contains a rasping tongue used to remove, crush and grind food. Most species of snail are herbivores, whilst others feed on live prey or carrion. They are mainly active at night so their bodies do not dry out in the sun, and during the day they hide in dark, damp places. Those with shells which not only give them some protection against predation, but also protection from desiccation, hide within them and seal themselves against rocks, stones, or vegetation.

Large Red Slug (Arion (Arion) rufus)
Large Red Slug (Arion (Arion) rufus)

Order: Stylommatophora (Air-breathing Terrestrial Slugs & Snails)
This taxon, now considered to be a clade, is a very large group of pulmonate (air-breathing) land snails and slugs. They are characterised by having two pairs of retractile tentacles with eyes located on the tips of the larger tentacles.

Wandering Pond Snail (Radix peregra)
Wandering Pond Snail (Radix peregra)

Order: Basommatophora (Freshwater Snails)
In this order are the air-breathing land snails which are found in ponds, ditches, streams, rivers and shallow lakes. They are characterised by having their eyes located at the base of their non-retractile tentacles, rather than at the tips, as in the true land snails in the order Stylommatophora. The majority of basommatophorans have shells that are thin, translucent, and which are fairly colourless.

Purple Topshell (Gibbula umbilcalis)
Purple Topshell (Gibbula umbilcalis)

Order: Neogastropoda (Whelks, Cones & Tritons)
These gastropods are mainly deposit feeders or predators. They all have a well-developed siphon for detecting prey. The larger bottom-dwelling carnivores commonly feed on bivalve molluscs, other gastropods, sea urchins, polychaete  worms, and even fish. They will often burrow into the sand to reach their prey.

Dog Whelk (Nucella lapillus)
Dog Whelk (Nucella lapillus)

Order: Neotaenioglossa (New Gastropods)
This order of mollusc is believed to have evolved around 70 million years ago during    the last days of the dinosaurs. They are characterised by the possession of only one gill, one auricle, one kidney and by siphon. This order is generally considered to be the most advanced of the prosobranch molluscs, which include the familiar whelks.

Flat Periwinkle (Littorina obtusata)
Flat Periwinkle (Littorina obtusata)

Tree Slug

Lehmannia marginata

Tree Slug (Lehmannia marginata)

A pale, translucent slug which is greyish-buff colour, and has a pair of dark lines running along its sides. Length 60 to 90mm.

It can be seen all year-long, and is found in on trees, usually in wet weather. It produces large amounts of watery mucous when disturbed as a defence measure. Common and widespread in woodland in W Britain and Ireland.

Photograph taken June 2015,  rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Chestnut Slug

Deroceras invadens

Chestnut Slug (Deroceras invadens)

Also called the ‘Brown Field Slug’, this has a translucent grey-brown body, although it may be darker. The mantle is usually tinged chestnut, and it usually, but not always, has a pale ring around its respiratory pore. It has a very short keel. The mucus is colourless. Quite a fast-moving slug. Length 25 to 35mm.

This slug can be a significant pest in gardens, allotments and nurseries and will eat many types of plants and seedlings.

Found in woods, but especially parks and gardens. Discovered under logs, stones and paving. Introduced to Britain and Ireland in the early 1930s, and has spread rapidly since 1975 and has become common and widespread.

Photograph taken November 2012, rear garden, Staffordshire. Nikon Coolpix P500. © Pete Hillman 2012.

Netted Slug

Deroceras reticulatum

Netted Slug (Deroceras reticulatum)

This slug just loves to eat the bird food I put out, apart from my plants. You can see some probable slug eggs just to the bottom right of its back end.

Also called the ‘Field Slug’ or ‘Grey Field Slug’, this is a fairly variable slug in colouration, but it usually has a pale cream body with a brownish mantle which has a netted appearance. It has a truncated keel. It produces clear mucus in large quantities, but it turns milky white when irritated. Similar to the Arctic Field Slug (Deroceras agreste). Length 35 to 50mm. 

Netted Slug (Deroceras reticulatum)

A very destructive slug and hated by gardeners for it eats the leaves of many various plants and crops, including seedlings. Found in various habitats including agricultural land, parks and gardens. Common and widespread throughout.

Photographs taken November 2012, rear garden, Staffordshire. Nikon Coolpix P500. © Pete Hillman 2012.

Leopard Slug

Limax maximus

Leopard Slug (Limax maximus)

Also called the ‘Great Grey Slug’ or the ‘Giant Garden Slug’, this is a large slug which is yellowish-grey to pinkish in colour, although this can be quite variable, with distinctive dark brown blotches and spots. It has a pronounced dorsal keel, and the sole is whitish. Its mucus is sticky and clear. Length 100 to 150mm.

It feeds on fresh and rotting plants of many kinds, and fungi.

Commonly associated with human habitation, and is found in gardens, cellars and outbuildings. It is also found in damp and shady hedgerows and woods. It hides during the day under logs and stones. Common and widespread.

Photograph taken November 2012, Warley Woods, Staffordshire. Camera Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38. © Pete Hillman 2012.

Green Cellar Slug

Limacus maculatus

Green Cellar Slug (Limacus maculatus)

Also called the ‘Irish Yellow Slug’, this is a medium-sized to large slug with a short keel. The body colour varies from pale ochre through to yellow-green to grey. The body has dark blotches or spots. The mucous is colourless. It has grey-blue tentacles. Similar to the Yellow Cellar Slug (Limacus flavus), which is a brighter yellow, has smaller spots and blotches, and has blue tentacles. Length 80 to 130mm.

Green Cellar Slug (Limacus maculatus)

It feeds on seedlings, vegetables, fungi, lichen, and decaying matter. It will even feed on pet food found indoors and old, damp wallpaper.

Commonly associated with gardens and houses, and it will venture indoors after dark. It prefers dark and moist habitats, and it may frequent cellars, greenhouses and sheds. Common and widespread throughout Britain and Ireland.

Photographs of Green Cellar Slug (Limacus maculatus), taken January 2014, front drive, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2014. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Nikon 18-55mm lens.

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.

Delicate Balance of Life

I found these tiny pearlescent eggs tucked away in a small niche under a rotting log. I think they are slug eggs, of what species I have no idea as I have several in my garden. I was and still am so a taken at how fragile-looking they are, how beautiful they are in the light, and yet they are well protected and suited to bring forth new life.

Photograph taken March 2014, rear garden, Staffordshire.