Tuesday, December 21, 2010

banana slug ~ 12/21/10 ~ Mt. Madonna

banana slug
Ariolimax sp.

It was total slugville underneath the redwoods and madrones at Mt. Madonna in the gentle rain. I easily lost count of how many native banana slugs we spotted during our hikes. True to my blog rules, all of these unedited pictures were taken on 12/21/10. They're fairly camera shy and quickly retracted their optical and sensory tentacles as we walked up to them. It took more patience than I generally have while waiting for the tentacles to reappear for the first photo above. Many of the banana slugs were longer than the span of my hand, from thumb to pinky, i.e., > 7". Most appeared to have egg masses sticking to their tail ends. Or it could have been the mucous/slime plug I've read about?

I was hoping to be able to ID the banana slug to species, but my numerous internet searches didn't offer any information on how to distinguish between Ariolimax columbianus (Pacific banana slug), A. dolichophallus (slender banana slug), and A. californicus (California banana slug). Color does not seem to be an identifying trait as they can be white, black, brown, or varying shades of yellow, all with or without spots. Not even my Field Guide to the Slug had any identifying information within the Ariolimax genus. However, I did find more sites about slug sex than I ever wanted to know.

For more information, click on any of the embedded links above, or check out a favorite local blogger's very nice summary of banana slugs at Curbstone Valley Farm. If anyone has better information, I'd love to hear from you.


Imperfect and Tense said...

Fortuitously, I'd just finished eating a banana before catching up with your blog during my lunch break.

Otherwise who knows how long I would've nervously sat there waiting for said banana to possibly sprout tentacles!

Greetings of the season to you and yours, Katie.



Joe said...

Wow. That's a big slug. Interesting color also. Slugs in my area are generally about two inches long and brown.

phyte club katie said...

This is actually kinda sad, mainly towards the end, but some great footage of a snake attempting to eat a banana slug somewhere in the redwoods:
Great post, thanks!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Graeme, that's pretty funny. Season's greetings to you, too!

Joe, banana slugs are supposedly the second largest terrestrial slugs in the world. Hope you have a good holiday!

Katie, poor snake! While looking all this up, I did find a recipe for banana slugs. Not something I want to try, the least of which is their reported tingly mucus - but that's supposed to get washed off in a vinegar bath, before being fried in butter. Will get to your e-mail shortly. Cheers!

Steve Borichevsky said...

Speaking of banana slugs, were drove through Santa Cruz yesterday. Yes, we are in cloudy, sunny California visiting family. It’s good to see some of my old friends, Western Gulls, California Gulls, Stellar Jays, etc.

We took a side trip over to Carmel to get away. Thanks for the tip about the kelp. After the smell of gurry in Gloucester, rotting kelp can’t be that bad.

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Steve, who knew I'd learn about local nature from someone in Massachusetts? I'm envious of your bird photos. Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip here. Seasons greetings to you, too!

Nature Drunk said...

As a young girl, I visited the Pacific Coast nearly every summer. The banana slugs were one of the highlights of vacation. FYI, there is a store on the square in downtown Arcata that sells banana slug sweatshirts - if you are into wearing that sort of thing : )

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Amber, I joke that part of why I got out of entomology is because I didn't like wearing those hideous insect/butterfly t-shirts and sweatshirts anymore. I don't think slug shirts would improve my opinion of the matter. Cheers to a healthy and happy new year!