Sunday, 17 November 2013


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Q:  What is a slug?
A: A snail without a home.

You can often spot slugs and snails in the garden, and certainly will be able to spot their silvery trails across your paths and plants.  Often the first signs of slugs and snails you will notice each morning is your chewed up plants and many silvery trails from the nights activity.

More often than not gardeners will try to control population of slugs and snails. They will often munch through your ornamental plants and vegetables with devastating effect. 

Slugs and snails are closely related and have many similarities.  They both belong to the phylum mollusca, class Gastropod (meaning stomach foot). Their mouth is located just below their eyes and contains many microscopic teeth which chews and shreds vegetation.

There are two pairs tentacles on the base of their head; a pair of long stalky eyes and a smaller pair beneath used to detect for smell.

Slugs and snails propel themselves along the ground using powerful forward propelling contractions, and use the slime gland located just below their mouth to produce a silvery trail on which to slide over. 

The production of this mucus allows snails and slugs to be the only mollusks that can live on land.  They use it to slide over sharp objects with out injury, and can even glide over razor blades without injury.  The mucus also prevents them from drying out and is distasteful to predators. They will follow this slime trail back to their hiding place again.

Slugs and snails like moist conditions as desiccation is a real problem, especially for slugs who do not have the protection of a shell. Therefore they mostly come out during night when the weather is cooler, although they can be seen in the day during damp conditions. 


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda

The main obvious difference between the two is that a snail has a shell, whilst a slug doesn't.  The shell can come in a variety of colours and patterns. 

A snail can retract back into his coiled shell to provide protection against predators or desiccation.  The snails shell grows larger as the snail grows longer.  

The visceral hump is located within the shell and contains all the snails essential organs.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: GastropodaGroup: Onchidiacea, Soleolifera, Sigmurethra

Slugs differ from snails as they lack a conspicuous shell.  The shell may be absent totally or they may only have a small internal shell into which they cannot retract.

Not having a shell means that slugs are much more maneuverable that snails and so they can successfully squeeze themselves through small gaps that would be impossible for a similar sized snail.

Slugs lack a viscal hump.

Slugs are especially prone to desiccation and hate dry conditions  so will stick close to damp environments.  They produce more mucus than snails.

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