10 February 2009

Return of the slugs

The unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having since last Saturday has thawed the soil that was frozen last Friday. I am amazed how quickly life returned to the undersides of the rocks. Already on Sunday afternoon there were slugs, isopods and other arthropods in places that had been barren 2 days earlier. I looked under 6 rocks and saw 3 live slugs. This Deroceras reticulatum was one of them.


When I was looking at this picture on my computer I saw those yellowish little balls in the mud below the slug. They looked like slug eggs, but I hadn’t noticed them while taking pictures. I went back out and looked under the same rock. Sure enough, they were there and they were indeed slug eggs. I don’t know if the slug in the picture had laid them and if they will survive when the soil freezes again.

This observation demonstrates that what appear to be adults of at least some slug species survive the sub-freezing temperatures of the winter. Now I need to figure out where they hide when the ground is frozen. The National Weather Service is predicting that the next Friday night the temperature will dip below freezing again. I will be monitoring the slugs and those eggs.

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