Several kinds of slugs may be wreaking havoc in your garden. Whether you’re dealing with the small but voracious reticulate taildropper, the larger olive green banana slug, or the furrowed slug (also called the black slug,) you are probably facing the same results: a garden decimated in hours by a frustratingly prolific pest.
Retired ecology professor Mary F. Wilson provides a fascinating glimpse into the life and times of Alaska’s slug nemesis.
Like their smaller relative, banana slugs are hermaphroditic (both male and female) and mating, after a long courtship, is often reciprocal, each one of a pair fertilizing the eggs of the other. Fertilization is internal, and sometimes the pair has difficulty disengaging from each other. When that happens, the inserted, stuck penis is chewed off and sometimes eaten, a behavior that has generated quantities of internet interest but relatively little rigorous scientific study. The process of regeneration is not reported to be available in this case, so apparently the thus-deprived partner can thereafter mate only as a female.
Eggs are typically laid in clusters, in damp places such as under logs or a pile of rotting vegetation. They take several weeks to hatch. During that time, they are very vulnerable to desiccation, more than juveniles or adults, simply because they cannot move to more salubrious locations.