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Caught in the Net 

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Captured by Nina Sandlin at newsgroup sci.bio.entomology.misc

From: luke@oswego. oswego.edu (Meredith Warner)

Subject: Help!! Giant Slugs!!!!

I'm not really sure where else to post this question, so maybe someone here can help me. I live in central New York, and my husband and I just rented a house in the city. The problem is giant slugs! They are about 3-4 inches long, with light grey and dark grey stripes running down the length of their body. My husband caught one by the fridge (I almost stepped on the damn thing) which had tiny white mite-like things crawling all over it. We got rid of that and I hoped it was an isolated incident. Well, I went in the kitchen tonight and there was another one of the damn things, eating directly out of the cats' bowl!!! There were slime trails all over the carpet. We killed it and threw it away and scrubbed out the bowl. Anyway, my questions are: What the hell is it? My parents live in the country and we never encountered anything bigger than the 1/2" garden variety. Most importantly, how do we get rid of these things?

We have no idea where they're coming in, and I'm terrified of stepping on one in the dark, or the cats eating one (are they poisonous?), and plus, I have a baby on the way in 1 1/2 months and don't want to find one crawling on her!!!!!!!! Somebody please help me. I'm not normally that squeamish, except when surprised by *giant* critters. :/

Thanks very much. Please e-mail as I don't get to read news much.

From: 'BurkeZoology' C Wood

Subject: Re: Help!! Giant Slugs!!!!

What you have is a slug called Limax maximus (I don't know a common name, and it probably has several different ones anyway). It is common in most northern US (& southern Canada) cities. It is an alien species accidentally introduced from Europe 50-100 yr. ago, so is not really well established in rural areas, thus is new to you. It is not poisonous in any way, though any cat who tried to eat it would rue the day (I'll spare you the yucky details). Fortunately cats are more discerning eaters than that. A tip: slug slime is practically impossible to clean off with water, which it absorbs, but if you let it dry, it just *brushes* off.

As to how it is getting in: slugs don't enter houses all that often! I assume you are on the ground floor or basement? Try being a detective & follow slime trails back to their source. If there are any doors to the outside with gaps under them that is a good possibility. I would assume your house is damp or humid, as slugs generally don't enter dry environments willingly; taking steps to "dry up" the place might help.

A good way to attract all the offenders to one spot for disposal is to set out a saucer of stale beer.

Yrs, Rod Crawford, Burke Museum, Seattle

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