Wednesday, July 06, 2005


This spring/summer so far has been unseasonably wet. Although ordinarily we're not troubled too much by them, the other day while I was doing some gardening one of these lovelies crossed my path:

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The photo doesn't really do it justice. There was the largeness of the thing, combined with its more-than-generous quotient of glistening slime, not to mention my surprise at seeing it sashaying around right out there in the open.

My immediate response was to want to kill it. I knew it was going to be feasting on plants I would rather it not eat. But since we don't have that many slugs ordinarily here, I'd never gone about killing one before.

It quickly occurred to me that there seems to be a top limit on the size of the sort of thing I'm willing to squish with my foot, and that limit had definitely been reached long before we hit "slug" on the ladder of the animal kingdom. The same thing is true with flying creatures--I can do mosquitoes and flies, but I balk at those large moths.

My Japanese beetle routine, which involves plopping them into a jar of alcohol, didn't feel adaptable to something this large, either. Pouring salt on it and watching it shrivel seemed like a bad prospect, too, as well as the trouble involved in the disposing of the corpse. So I watched it slink on by and did nothing.

Looking it up, I see that the suggested solutions are varied, but none seem ideal. Here is the best description I've found that explores the available recommended and non-recommended methods for offing a slug:

Now, how to kill the little buggers. The beer-in-the-tuna-can method has never been at all effective for me. The slugs hang over the edge and sip at the beer, but very few have ever fallen in. (They do seem quite partial to beer, however.) As for salt, some say it is extremely cruel, a feature that undoubtedly makes it more attractive to many. But the main disadvantage is this: if you salt or otherwise chemically attack slugs, they dump all their slime in their death throes--years' worth at once! The stuff is ineradicable and you are stuck with a yard full of repulsive silvery slime globules.

I once entered the yard of a neighbor and found eight or ten slugs, impaled on a shish kebab skewer, writhing upright in her garden. "A deterrent," she muttered darkly when I questioned her about this grisly spectacle.

Geese and skunks alone among members of the animal kingdom are said to eat slugs, and some keep them for this purpose. To my thinking, the spectacle is too revolting to endure.

My husband, to prove himself manly, has used the following method: he picks them up with his bare hands (geeklike behavior, in my opinion), and when they roll up in a ball (the burnt sienna-and-orange variety that plague my yard change shape from banana to papaya when attacked), he hurls them out into the street. Then he runs back and forth over them with the car. Charming behavior which I hope was not genetically transmitted to my children.

Perhaps I should just hope we return to our normal amount of rain.


At 11:56 AM, July 06, 2005, Blogger Goesh said...

At first glance I thought it was a seal sunbathing on a rock. I'm surprised you didn't call in a SWAT team on that monster.

At 1:06 PM, July 06, 2005, Anonymous Roberto said...

Or you could move to South Florida and find this one in your backyard

At 10:25 PM, July 06, 2005, Blogger Pancho said...

Where did you find the picture of my ex-wife.

At 10:54 PM, July 06, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recomend scooping them up with a trowel (or whatever) and throwing them over a fence or in the yard. You may not know what happens to the slug, but it will be gone.

At 10:03 AM, July 07, 2005, Anonymous meander said...

Well, that is an impressive bugger. I've never outgrown being a tomboy when it comes to bugs and am almost disturbingly unsqueamish about disposing of them in matter of fact ways. I won't go into detail but if one were snacking on a beloved hosta...good bye ...good remorse...hmmm, much as I feel about ridding our world of terrorists. Especially after today's horrific acts in London.


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