The Pacific Banana Slug (Ariolimax californicus) is native to the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains. These bright yellow slugs are the second largest slug in the world and can get close to 10 inches long! The largest slug is in Europe and can get up to 12 inches long. Because of their large size, shocking bright yellow color and slow movement it is quite easy to run across one in Loma Mar and especially at The Cottage during the wet fall and winter months.
How to Appreciate a Banana Slug.
Banana slugs are environmentalists. I’ve read that slugs don’t cause much damage to growing plants and gardens. I’m not sure what “not much” means but if you ask anyone who has a garden in Loma Mar they will tell you slugs munch on everything! The “food of choice” to a slug is decomposing plant materials, some algae, lichens, mushrooms, animal feces and even dead animals. This makes them an important part of the ecosystem in returning dead organic materials to a form that can be used again by the forest and garden plants. O.K., I’ll give the slug that.
Banana Slugs are Scientific Marvels.
They are an interesting scientific study because each banana slug has both male and female organs. They usually mate and fertilize each other at the same time. During the mating process they may become fused together and the male part might have to be chewed off so that they can separate and go on their merry way! Ouch.
The Importance of Being Slimy.
Banana slugs produce mucus or slime, which has many functions. Slime keeps the banana slug skin moist and is necessary for the slug to be able to breathe. On damp days, slime pulls moisture out of the air and on dry days slime wicks water out of the soil. A thin cushion of slime helps the slug move over rough ground more easily and protects it from injury. Slime also protects banana slugs from being eaten as most animals cannot tolerate the texture. I can imagine. The mucus also contains a numbing anesthetic that makes them even more unpalatable. Yeah, that would probably not be a pleasant experience!
Banana Slugs are Mascots.
UC Santa Cruz made the Banana slug their official mascot (Sammy the slug) and in 2004 Reader’s Digest called the Banana slug the ‘best mascot’. Go Sammy!!!
Banana slugs are one of the most beloved and iconic native species within the redwood forests. Come meet one in Loma Mar!
Published by Amy on: Apr 24, 2014