leopard slugs

capecodder(z6 MA)August 24, 2006

Leopard slugs have suddenly appeared in our yard this year, and even worse, they've appeared in our basement. Yesterday we found four down there. For those of you who haven't seen them, they're spotted like leopards and are 4" long...huge! We've certainly never seen a slug in our basement before, but with all the spring rain this year our basement was wet for a long time (like, 2 months or more).

We can't figure out where these nasty beasts are coming from. Any ideas? I've got escar-go which I use outside (organic slug killer) but we've got indoor cats so I'm afraid to use it in the basement. Help!

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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I post this with no comment because I'm speechless.


Here is a link that might be useful: Leopard Slug

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 6:06PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

I have found these guys to be less plentiful and destructive than the standard slug that have now disappeared from my garden because of a huge snail population. The slimy trails that they leave behind are as telling as a foot print in the sand. kt

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 6:17PM
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Ugh! I *really* hope you're on the lower cape!

Don't know about escar-go, but I know I would have no qualms about using Sluggo near pets - totally harmless, and I think escar-go is too.

I'd definitely get a dehumidifier, though, because, if it's damp enough for slugs, it's damp enough to damage your house, and your health.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 6:44PM
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That is truly revolting. Four...inches...long?! I have never heard of these, hope I never see one, and hope you will tell us if you find a solution. I agree with DTD that if your basement is wet enough for these, it may be time for outside help.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 7:18PM
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Only four inches long?!?!? HA!!!! I grew up just off of the Hackensack Meadowlands, near where the giant garbage dumps are/were. Slugs down there used to get so big, as kids weÂd lasso them and ride Âem around the swamp. Had to stop, when one day the mosquitoes carried away Bobby, snatching him right off the back of Pimpernel, his favorite riding slug.

That area is now going to be turned into a multi-thousand unit housing development. WonÂt THAT be a nice place to live? "Honey, why does Johnny have three eyes?" "DonÂt bother me! IÂm busy hunting giant slugs. Watch out for that mosquito! Dang! Now, whoÂs gonna help me reload the flamethrower?"


    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 8:51AM
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Narcnh, you are too funny. Are they really going to build houses there? You can smell it for miles.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 9:59AM
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We have slugs galore, but I've never seen of those babies! We just have the 2-3" orange or brown kind. They're sort of icky, but I've learned to live with them.

LOL, Narcnh. Do you think they were actually spawned in that place you referenced and have simply migrated hence in search of new jockeys?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 4:02PM
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we have those in our basement this year as well - maybe some sort of infestation in the region? and, something truly gross: some friends of mine encountered mating leopard slugs in their yard, right before they sat down for a tasty dinner of gnocchi - the sliminess and consistency of the gnocchi was too much and they could hardly choke 'em down. i've included a link of the mating...soooooo gross! imagine accidently walking into that in the dark...

Here is a link that might be useful: leopard slugs aerial mating

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 5:11PM
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How funny that you would fancy something like that "gross"! I'll be the first to admit that slugs aren't my most favorite garden creatures, but I don't think they're that repulsive.

Certainly not enough so that they would deter me from enjoying a lovely meal, lol. As for running into them in the night... I've run into enough spider webs and brushed the disturbed occupants off my person to react and "get over it". I've actually even put a baby slug into my mouth... he was on some "home grown" lettuce and had spent 3 days in the 'fridge. I realized it instantly and flicked him over the edge of the deck. And I've lived to tell about it.

You get used to the "ickier" stuff your garden offers up.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 5:31PM
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Too funny - I literally just had my first encounter - ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Luckily before I put my hand on him (feeling faint), I saw him and flicked him back in the dirt. Way too huge for my comfort.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 6:35PM
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capecodder(z6 MA)

Kath, what are you doing about the slugs in your cellar? Our cellar is all dry now...
Narcnh...very funny! I grew up in northern NJ and am very familiar with the meadlowlands area..ha ha!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 7:10PM
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i don't mind spiderwebs, grubs get picked out and tossed, snails get tossed too. but a meter of slime hanging down with giant copulating slugs getting stuck in my hair? i hardly think it strange to consider that 'gross'.

and: unfortunately, capecodder, i've been fighting the battle one by one - they just get picked up and slung into the trash outside. i might put some bait down...thing is, i'm a renter, so it's hard to tell the LL to put in a dehumidifier and spend the $$$.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 7:42PM
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Quit being a "sissy"!


    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 8:36PM
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timct(z6 CT)

I remember when I was in middle school and during summer vacation my parents let me "camp out" in the backyard in our pop-up camper. It was late at night and while making a trip to the house to use the "facilities" I steped on something slimy with my barefeet and slide about 3 feet across the lawn. When I got in the house I saw that squished between my toes was a huge gob of grey mucus.. My first encounter with a Leopard Slug. Took me 20 minutes to clean the slime from between my toes. It could have been worse I guess.. dog poop?


    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 4:30PM
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ellen_s(z5 centralMA)

Ha! I was looking for info on the net about slugs in New England, and google found this Gardenweb discussion right away!!

I just read all this about squishy slugs and I have to say, I would have trouble loving a slug!!

I saw something on TV the other day saying that the destructive garden slugs are an introduced/nonnative species, and that our native slugs eat leaf litter and are not particularly bad to have around. Does anybody know what our native slug is? My Field Guide to New England shows only the "Leopard slug" as a resident here. But I definitely have other slugs - smaller but equally squishy.

Our property is very humid, so I have to go out with a flashlight at night and rescue my potted patio plants from the slugs who decimate them...then I throw the slimy slugs to the catfish in the pond! I have also tried Sluggo (?) as well as the beer in the countainer trick of luring the slugs to a very drunken death...

    Bookmark   February 19, 2007 at 12:16PM
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One of the specialists I regularly interact with is one of the handful of specialists in the world with an interest in terrestrial molluscs like these. He's told me before that the slugs you are likely to see in the USA around human dwellings are the non-natives. I would guess the natives are mostly found in undisturbed (or mostly undisturbed) forests.

Mostly (at least in New England) they've been introduced from Europe, usually accidentally.

This is the problem with moving a plant from one state to another with the rootball intact. You can transport things like slug eggs in the process without even realizing they are in the rootball.

For that reason the USDA doesn't allow you to import a plant from another country if the rootball is intact (even if that rootball is in a pot and nothing but "potting soil"). There are just too many uncontrollable risks involved that way.

Our Western European counterparts are the same way, and for the same reasons.

If you do it the right way you can bring the plant, but not the soil!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2007 at 9:39PM
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I'm not seeing the abundance of "copper" advice we see in Washington State. I hope I can visit your beautiful area some day, as my ancestors were neighbors and contemporaries of the historical Mayflower travelers, having come on another Mayflower voyage... My 8th great grandfather founded Hampton, New Hampshire... Other great grandparents born in Vermont and Connecticut. I wish I knew the area better.
On to gardening... for those searching the internet for slug solutions (I'm weary of suppliers who don't know what they're doing taking people's money... verges on fraud, except they probably never gardened seriously in their lives and don't know any better.)
NOT tarnished copper...
I was intrigued about slugs and copper, so conducted my own little experiment. I put 1/2" copper pipe in the sun, and a slug so that, with the sun at his back, in his retreat he would be forced to come face-to-face with the copper. He touched it and reared back like a miniature horse! It worked, and I read later that their reaction is caused by a small electrical charge.
One drawback about copper I've never seen addressed in forums or blogs, on garden sites, or by garden suppliers: once the copper is tarnished, slugs cross it like it's nothing.
I don't feel like cleaning my copper, nor wish to rebuy every season, so I've opted for ducks. They're fun companions (in the country), but the hens can be loud. Better to have a drake in town, if slugs are a problem there.
A note on leopard slugs: the ducks won't eat the larger ones in the evening and not at all when they're too big. Watching them, it seems they taste bad, so much exude some substance for protection.
God bless your Garden


    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 3:07PM
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Collect them and offer them in trade as pets. :)

They are actually quite pretty, and the documentary was great.


Here is a link that might be useful: My Leopard Slugs

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 10:39AM
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capecodder(z6 MA)

Oddly, I never saw another of these slugs after the summer I posted about them (2006). I do not miss them!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 7:57PM
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i have them in the garden behind my apartment building in New York City. They are really fascinating. I have never seen slugs like this before. no joke, they get up to about 8 inches long. I would guess the average size is at least 6 inches. The last two nights I have seen ones stretched out that are almost as long as my hand. it is crazy. i really can't bring myself to kill them bc i think they are some kind of record setting slugs, so i thrown them into the next building's yard (no garden there just dirt). We have a really nice garden and I know slugs are a problem, i can see what the little white ones do to the leaves, but these things are too big to climb on leaves, so what do they do? how do they do their damage? I am really curious. Can someone tell me how these giant garden slugs function? oh man, i think i am obsessed with them - i go out almost every night with a flash light to look at them. their behavior is fascinating, i have never seen them on a plant, only on the ground and climbing sticks or walls.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 12:05AM
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Leopard slugs actually feed on fungus, dead plant matter and smaller slugs for the most part(from what I've witnessed). I have heard that they eat young crops but have yet to witness one eating live plants myself.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 2:57PM
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I read people keep them as pets.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 9:16PM
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Giant Leopard Slugs are indicative of bad or contaminated soil. In fact, cute as their little antennae make them (if one looks hard)...they are parasitic themselves and are carriers of parasitic white-slug-mites and parasitic worms. They come because they dine on parasitic nematodes and other parasites mostly, not only leaves, which is why they take over the dump, under bear's feet of course. If you were to throw down rotten beef or eggs or anything, ...come back tomorrow and find them although you may have to dig. Always 'under' cuz they like dark and they like maintaining moisture. Dark does that. Not that it is water or wet, but that it holds THEIR moisture in. In fact, slugs do NOT like water and will run (or slime really fast) out of it. Try putting one in the bird bath or just spray in with the hose. Nope..not liked. There ya go. I dare say, the soils are 'different' all over this year. Altered by some form of contaminant, inspired by weather changes I think. Yes..if in your basement...then you need to seal the deal. Find where the heck they would or could or why they would come in. You know the scoop...where there is one, there never is..just one. K

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 8:39PM
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capecodder(z6 MA)

Interestingly (and thankfully), I never again have seen a leopard slug since I dispatched the ones I had in 2006. Even the regular slug population has declined.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 11:13AM
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I first saw them where I work. I brought home a load of clippings and must have transported them. I think they are just great! They tend to be more of a woodland dweller and now my suburban garden is tending to be a bit wild, they are at home here. I pride my self on the number of species that co-exist with me here. Along with pets, there are giant centipedes (I transplanted here from the woods], preying mantises, walking sticks, all kinds of catapillars, moths and butterflies,an occasional salamander or newt [I want more] squirrels, chipmunks[the deer and woodchucks have to peer in through the fence. A small pond made with cinder blocks and heavy plastic used to house a baby snapping turtle-he grew big enough last year and left to live in the lake down the street. Twice we have had a baby toad population explosions(woodhouses toads), we have bull and pickerel frogs that "summer' here-moving up from the pond down the street during the rain storms. When I moved here with my garden plants from the old place potted up,I must have brought both great and spring peepers. Both must be propagating themselves in the little 4x8 pond. They are now all over the neighborhood!Dragon flys almost recognize me now.This year I had orb spiders all over the place-several different species! I could go on and on with all the amazing life in my tiny 1/4 acre of gardens. Its such a pleasure to sit and watch all of my residents and visitors. Its a sign to me that Im doing things right.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 5:00PM
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kgmax, I've never read anything about them being indicative of contaminated soil, where did you read that? Also, they are omnivores - they eat decaying plant matter and other slugs, not just nematodes.

It doesn't sound to me like they're so awful, although I would not want to eat one. The only negative thing Wikipedia says about them is: A meningitis-causing nematode, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which normally infests the lungs of rats, has a larval stage which can only live in mollusks, including slugs.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 9:20PM
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