Friend or Foe?


The European Black Slug is our friend in the wood even if it’s our enemy in the allotment. It helps to recycle the organic matter and nutrients back into a form that can be used by other organisms and disperses seeds and spores, as they get caught in the mucus and are transported around the wood. This fine fellow was out and about on a damp April day but transporting nothing more interesting than a bit of old beech leaf.

If you’re curious, there is plenty of information about Arion ater on the Trees for Life website. They sometimes eat earthworms, which I never knew,  and are in turn eaten by badgers.  They breathe through their skin but a small hole and a ‘lung-like cavity’ provide extra skin area for breathing “when the animal is engaged in strenuous exercise”. I’ve never seen a slug engaged in anything strenuous but then I’ve never seen one trying to outrun a badger.  Wikipedia says the slug is “edible (if somewhat unappetising)”.  Its a mollusc and so related to the octopus in the salad we’ve just eaten but I don’t think I’ll be harvesting any for the freezer just yet .



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