Breeding garden slugs by Cyrene Krey

Breeding Slugs

A pair of breeding gray garden slugs by Cyrene Krey

This fall, during one of my exploratory walks around my yard, I discovered a pair of breeding gray garden slugs. Slugs are hermaphrodites, meaning they contain both male and female reproductive organs. Although they are able to self-fertilize, they usually mate with another slug.

Breeding garden slugs by Cyrene Krey
Slugs, shell-less snails, can be found in higher numbers after it rains, preferring moist environments. 
Tiny slug by Cyrene Krey
Just a few feet away, I saw several smaller slugs around a pile of leaf litter. They’re considered a pest because they’ve become so common in home gardens and destroy vegetable seedlings. They eat holes in leaves and stems which harms the plants and I often see them out enjoying my blackberry bushes.
Gray Garden Slug by Cyrene Krey
Despite being considered pests, slugs are vital members of their ecosystems. They play an important role in the decomposition of vegetative litter as well as important nutrient recyclers which aid in the maintenance of soil health.
Mating Slugs by Cyrene Krey
If you absolutely must reduce the population of slugs in your garden, avoid harsh chemicals. One alternative to deal with them is to encourage predators, such as toads, snakes, and beetles near the garden. These guys will eat the slugs and also give you more wildlife to appreciate.

As always, you’re welcome to view more of these photos on my website at www.cyrenekrey.com and I’d love it you liked my Facebook page for even more wildlife facts and photos! I’ll be giving away quite a bit of goodies soon to clear out my old inventory, so now’s a great time to start following my page if you aren’t already 🙂

For more information on these cool critters, check out the following resources:

University of Illinois Extension: Slugs by Phil Nixon

Economic Impacts of the Conservation of the Mojave Shoulderband Snail (Helminthoglypta ‘Coyote’ Greggi) by Cyrene Krey

Goh, K. (1988). Gray Garden Slug: Deroceras reticultatum. Field Crops Fact Sheet No. 102GFS795.00

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