Sunday, May 13, 2012

Slug and Manroot

Banana slug stealthily eating manroot leaves
A few weeks ago we were having unseasonably cold weather and I found myself looking, though unsuccessfully, for Banana slugs (Ariolimax columbianus) as I walked in the cold, gray early mornings. Then it got a bit warmer and rain gave way to blue skies and sun. I gave up on the slugs and went off to look at a Manroot or Wild cucumber plant (Marah oreganus) that I'd been admiring in a somewhat secluded rocky area.

Headed home for the day
I noticed an odd color in the depth of the plant and lo and behold! I'd finally found a banana slug! Wild cucumber produces upright stalks of small white flowers and the deer scat near the slug told me who had eaten nearly every flower off of the plant. As the sun rose higher in the sky the slug began it's journey home. I was thrilled because I've often wondered where these creatures go when the sun is out.
The slug moved slowly, producing enough slime, as it traveled, to help carry it safely over dried leaves, twigs and rocks. I had plenty of time to admire it's moves, contemplate the meaning of life and rearrange my bag. I was even able to plot it's course and identify it's home before it actually arrived at the small cave in the rocks and disappeared slowly into the dark.

A young banana slug
The weather remained cold for several days and I returned a few more times. In all, I found three different banana slugs eating the Manroot leaves at different times. One was quite small (3.5 inches long) and must have been a youngster. The other two were adults and easy to tell apart because one had almost no spots and the other had many.

It'll be a while before I see any of the Banana slugs again. During the dry summers here in Santa Rosa these native creatures estivate (the summer version of hibernate).

Think you know all there is to know about slugs? Think again:
 Slugs: A Guide to the Invasive and Native Fauna of California by Rory McDonnell
 CreationWiki
San Francisco State University Department of Geography
treehugger.com
National Parks Traveler
Birds Amoré

2 comments:

  1. Thanks so much on the information about slugs. I like to learn about my subjects too. My last one was peacocks...i also learned a new word reading your blog today 'estivate'! Lovely sketches...thanks for sharing! Hugs! deb

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  2. Lovely sketches and blog, I am in awe from your sensibility. Blesses

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