Photo by urbpan. Location: Stanley Park, Vancouver.
Urban species #217: Banana slug Ariolimax columbianus
For those of us accustomed to tiny garden slugs, the Pacific coast banana slug is a surprising creature. Some individuals can stretch out to a couple inches shy of a foot, with six inch long animals quite typical. They show a color variation of bright yellow to duller shades, often with dark spots. Banana slugs are native to the Pacific coast of North America, from southern Alaska to northern California, appearing in several urban forests. They are active participants in forest health, eating herbaceous plants that compete with seedling trees, and by spreading fungal spores of mycorrhyzal mushrooms, such as Russulas. They are important decomposers, consuming fallen fruit and foliage, as well as animal feces and carrion.The copious mucus that the banana slug produces to protect itself may, in dry weather, provide protection for woodlice.
In most places slugs survive unappreciated, but Pacific coast people are proud of their large terrestrial mollusk. Novelty signs herald "slug crossing," and the University of California, Santa Cruz, has named their athletic teams for this emblematic invertebrate. Despite their teams' clever slogan "no known predators", real banana slugs are preyed upon by raccoons and crows, and hatchling slugs may be eaten by ducks, ground beetles, garter snakes, and many other animals. Some humans are not fond of them, particularly those attempting to grow lettuce or other slug favorites in the vicinity of the Pacific forests.
Capilano Park, Vancouver.
Also in Stanley Park.