Let’s talk slugs, peoples. Uber gross, plant destroying, yucky slugs. I had absolutely no interest in these horrid beasties until I came upon a picture of this guy:
Here are some interesting facts about banana slugs that you might like to know:
- They are huge! Banana slugs can grow to be almost ten inches long and weigh over 4 ounces. A cube of butter weighs 4 ounces! That is a whole lot of slug, peoples.
- Not all banana slugs are yellow. Some are green, or brown. Some have lots of black spots. Some are totally white.
- Banana slugs can move at nearly 7 inches per minute. We know this fact because someone, somewhere, at some time in the history of human curiosity, encountered a banana slug, got out a stop watch, and timed how long it took the average-sized banana slug to move from Point A to Point B.
- The slimy stuff that banana slugs excrete is called mucus. Mucus helps prevent dehydration and it also contains pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals that attract other banana slugs, which leads to a banana slug mating session, which then leads to the eventual creation of the next generation of banana slugs.
- Banana slugs prefer living in moist conifer forests. Mostly, they reside in the coastal forest floors stretching from Southeastern Alaska to Santa Cruz, California. They can also be found in a few other places in North America.
- Banana slugs eat leaves, animal droppings, dead plants, and mushrooms. They are especially fond of mushrooms, by the way. They excrete a nitrogen rich fertilizer, which makes the banana slug an important member of a forest’s ecosystem.
- Many beasties like raccoons, snakes, ducks, geese, salamanders, moles, and shrews eat banana slugs.
- The Yurok Tribe of California used the banana slug as a food source. I couldn’t find any tribal recipes on how they prepared the slugs for consumption. I did, however, find an interesting website while I was in research mode that provides an excellent history of the Yurok Tribe that is well worth a visit.
- Early 19th century German immigrants who came to the Pacific Northwest also used the banana slug as a food source. Diary’s of some of the early immigrants commented on how banana slugs were prepared for cooking. I wasn’t able to locate a German immigrant recipe, however.
The banana slug is another interesting beastie that deserves to be respected by us humans. Looking at one might make you feel a bit squeamish; and, probably, you wouldn’t want to encounter one in your garden. Certainly, most of us wouldn’t want to eat one! However, we can all appreciate the work the banana slug does to maintain the ecosystems of the forests where it resides.
This is an excellent six minute video entitled Banana Slugs Unpeeled. It presents everything you ever wanted to know about this amazing critter. Thank you YouTube.
Here’s a zippy Banana Slug Song by the Bungee Jumping Cows. You can sing along and even dance with other slug enthusiasts if you so desire.
For all you foodies out there, this is an insightful article from Feral Food on how to prepare banana slugs for cooking and eating. There are picture and video instructions included.