How much do you know about slugs? Probably not a lot, if the truth be known. They are not the most appealing of creatures… and as long as they stay off the hostas and strawberries most of us will happily ignore them. For my part, I admit, I am not keen on them. Ani, in spite of my best efforts to keep her away from them due to the threat of lungworm, persists in bringing them in the house on toys she leaves outside overnight… and I persist in going barefoot and, occasionally, finding them that way… though these days even while I cringe and shudder at the underfoot squelch, I have to smile at the best chapter title ever… Breakfast in Slug Town, in Heart of Albion.
I recall one horrid summer when we had a leak beneath the floorboards in the kitchen, a leak the plumbers could not find. It went on for months and every slug in the vicinity seemed to take up residence in my kitchen. Nightmare.
Yet they are fascinating creatures, if you actually learn a little about them. I did… don’t ask me why, I really don’t have a clue. Look them up and see for yourself. I had no idea, for instance, how many varieties of land slug there are in Britain alone. Nor any idea of their anatomy, other than the visible. I didn’t know many still have a vestigial shell beneath the mantle. Or even that there was such a thing as a freshwater slug…
I was aware that they are hermaphroditic… though the rest of their mating habits were a bit of an eye opener (gentlemen, I suggest you skip that part… it will make your toes curl, though that may be a poor choice of words under the circumstances).
It is odd, though… snails most of us don’t seem to mind. Their shells can be beautifully marked, wonderful colours… even pastel pinks, blues and yellows… I even have recipes for snails… though not a one have I seen for slugs, which on the whole have to be easier to prepare… And if you have a slug recipe… please don’t tell me… I don’t really want to know!
(Well, I didn’t, but being an idiot I googled… see slug fritters….or not, depending on how squeamish you are about the idea… I do recommend not googling over breakfast….)
Yet a snail is little different from a slug apart from the shell. Funny how much difference appearances make to our emotions sometimes. It makes me wonder how often we make such illogical, emotional judgements based purely on a reaction to what we see, or think we see.
However, this morning the sight of a large slug on the path was welcome. Their bodies are mostly water and they are subject to weather… hiding from the sun that dessicates them and hibernating from the winter freeze. So to see the determined little creature slithering towards the primroses was rather nice. Either his sleeping habits are as off kilter as mine, or spring is round the corner in spite of the wet and windy weather.
I never thought I would see the Herald of Spring in the guise of a slug… but if that little chap is right, he’s welcome to the odd primrose or two.