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spotted garden slug

Limax maximus

What do they look like?

Spotted garden slugs can attain at least 6 inches in length. They vary in color from yellowish-gray to brown with black spots on the mantle near the head and black stripes extending along the rest of the body. The tail area is wrinkled. There is a pneumostome or breathing pore on the back part of the mantle that this slug uses to breathe.

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range length
    15.24 (high) cm
    6.00 (high) in

Where do they live?

This slug is an introduced species in North America and other temperate regions of the world.

What kind of habitat do they need?

Spotted garden slugs are found in moist places in fields, woods, and gardens. They inhabit damp ground under wood, rocks, vegetation, and other shaded areas.

How do they grow?

Eggs are approximately 1/4 inch in diameter, and when first laid, they are colorless and transparent. Gradually, the eggs become cloudy, resembling small pearls. Development is direct whereby larval stages occur within the egg, and eventually, tiny slugs emerge from the eggs. Limax becomes sexually mature in two years.

How long do they live?

This slug may live up to three years.

How do they behave?

Spotted slugs have photoreceptors that are used to detect light levels in its environment. They will become active when the ground surface temperature ranges from 44.2 to 65.7 degrees Fahrenheit.

These slugs are capable of learning about their environment. They will respond to odors encountered. When a bad smell is evident in the presence of food, a slug will learn to avoid the food. However, if it detects a bad smell, and then some time later, a bad smell is detected in the presence of food, the slug will not avoid the food.

These slugs will absorb water by through their muscular foot. They will engage in huddling behavior with each other to conserve body water and avoid dehydration. This occurs most often during the winter. To avoid too much water in the body, these slugs will give off excess water. They may also estivate, or become dormant, during dry periods.

A spotted garden slug is able to compact its body to half its length while creeping along the ground. It secretes a slime trail that help it glide more easily.

What do they eat?

Spotted garden slugs will eat fungi, decaying organic matter, and plants.

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • lichens

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

When irritated, spotted garden slugs will secrete a colorless mucus. A slug may lift its tail and vibrate it back and forth as a means of scaring a potential predator. It may clamp its mantle to the ground to protect its head. To scare away predators, it may even squirt blood through its breathing hole!

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

This slug may help cycle nutrients in soil via its feeding activities.

They may be an intermediate host for trematodes and nematode worms.

Certain kinds of protozoans may be parasitic in them.

Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host
  • ciliated protozoans

Do they cause problems?

This slug has been known to damage gardens. It may be an intermediate host for some trematode and nematode worms which can harm our pets.

How do they interact with us?

This slug may contribute to regeneration of soil because of its eating habits.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.

biodegradation

helps break down and decompose dead plants and/or animals

causes or carries domestic animal disease

either directly causes, or indirectly transmits, a disease to a domestic animal

detritivore

an animal that mainly eats decomposed plants and/or animals

detritus

particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).

ectothermic

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

introduced

referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mycophage

an animal that mainly eats fungus

nocturnal

active during the night

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

 
University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Limax maximus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 25, 2014 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Limax_maximus/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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