In defence of autumn slugs – 8th November

Everyone hates slugs. They look disgusting and have little respect for vegetables on private property.  Eccentric English gardeners have tried all kinds of hacks to get rid of them – from using egg shells to copper tape to plain old poison – but these slimeballs refuse to go away.

There is, however, something admirable about London’s molluscs – especially at this time of year when little else is happening in the garden. These 480-million-year old creatures are ace at chomping through rotting organic waste, helping work nutrients into the soil for next year. The Spanish slug loves clearing up so much it even eats dog shit.

Unlike other molluscs (like mussels, oysters, cockles and scallops) slugs and snails abandoned their gills and grew lungs to survive on land. This proved to be a good move as they are some of the most successful scavengers around. They also provide hard-up hedgehogs and  birds with a juicy snack over winter months. Keen gardeners will know slugs do their dirty work at dawn or dusk. This is partly because they like to keep moist but it also helps them steer clear of predators.

If you’re still not sold, slugs (which are hermaphrodites) have extraordinary sexual routines. These acrobatic displays involve them secreting slime, gyrating on it and then sticking their flower-shaped penises around one another.

Send me pictures of your slug trysts on Twitter using #rewildinglondon. If you like this newsletter please do encourage others to sign up by sending this link – https://tinyletter.com/Phoeb0

slug

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