Filed under Animals
Banana slug is a common name for three North American species of terrestrial slug in the genus Ariolimax. These slugs are often yellow in color and are sometimes spotted with brown, like a ripe (or overripe) banana. Individual slugs will change colors with alterations in food consumption, light exposure, and moisture levels. Color may also indicate whether a slug is healthy, injured, or what age they are.
Ariolimax columbianus is native to the forest floors along North America’s Pacific coastal coniferous rainforest belt (including redwood forests) which stretches from Southeastern Alaska to Santa Cruz, California.
Slugs use two pairs of tentacles to sense their environment. The larger, upper pair, termed “eyestalks,” are used to detect light or movement. The second, lower pair are used to detect chemicals. The tentacles can retract and extend themselves to avoid damage. If a predator bites off a tentacle, the slug can grow a new one.
Banana slugs are detritivores, or decomposers. They process leaves, animal droppings, and dead plant material, and then recycle them into soil humus.
The slime also contains pheromones to attract other slugs for mating. Slugs are simultaneous hermaphrodites, and reproduce by exchanging sperm with their mate. They produce up to 75 translucent eggs, which are laid in a log or on leaves. Slugs mate and lay eggs throughout the year. The adults provide no further care for their eggs beyond finding a suitable hiding spot.
The cutest banana slug
Banana slugs have small teeth that are on its tongue. It uses this toothy tongue (radula) like a file so it can eat its food. Individuals can move at 6 1⁄2 inches (17 cm) per minute.
Banana slugs have been used as food by Yurok Indians of the North Coast and by German immigrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A yearly festival and contest is held at Russian River (California) including slug races and a contest for recipes – though, even when fed corn meal to purge them or soaked in vinegar to remove slime, the slugs’ flavor is not always well regarded, and the most successful entries are often those in which the flavor is unnoticeable.
Filed under Animals
Albino slug by gapey (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gapey/)