Thursday in the Naturehood

Gastropod

Gastropod

Slimed!!

Like mosquitoes and cockroaches, it’s often difficult to determine why slugs are a part of the created order – except to wreak unrelenting carnage in our vegetable gardens.  Actually these slimy little creatures perform the vital, yet thankless, role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.  

They are an important part of the food chain, providing food for snakes, salamanders, toads, frogs, moles, shrews, porcupines, foxes, raccoons, beetles and various birds, such as owls, robins, blackbirds, thrushes, jays and crows. 

As we already know, they are voracious eaters!!  Their environmental assignment is to break down organic matter, which is essential for recycling nutrients, such as nitrogen, which enrich the soil.  Not only do slugs clear an area of decaying matter, they also help spread seeds that are present in the vegetation.  Unfortunately, they do not have a proper brain.  Their knots of nerve cells can identify vegetation, but they are not able to discern whether they’re in a forest or a vegetable garden.