Banana Slug, Hooray!

I am about to wax rhapsodic over finding a slug in my garden.  I know some may find that weird, but remember, this is the Pacific Northwest.  We're a little different here.

This lovely lady (or handsome gentleman, if you wish, you can use either since they are both) is Ariolimax columbianus, the Banana Slug.  If you're lucky, you can find him/her in the foggy, moist coastal forests from southeast Alaska to northern California.

These are not the garden pests that climb your Lupines, gobble up your Hostas or feast on your Petunias.  Those gray, red or black invaders are immigrants from Europe.  Our native Banana Slugs have a refined and gentle palate.  They are more likely to be found cleaning up decaying plant material from the ground.  According to Paghat's Garden, they prefer densely wooded places where there are lots of mouldering conifer needles to eat.  Mushrooms are their favorite food.

Why am I excited about finding one in my garden?  To begin, it is the first one I have seen here in 25 years.  They are rarely found in "cosmopolitan" areas.  The preferred habitat is dense forest.  Because of this, it could be evidence that my attempts at creating a Northwest forest edge habitat in the garden has been successful.  Of course, it is always a thrill to spot something rare, wild, and quintessentially Northwest, in my own yard.  Even a lowly gastropod mollusk.

Banana Slugs are actually under threat from the introduced species through competition and predation.  Remember that these are the good guys/gals and that they deserve your protection.  If you spot one, you are most fortunate.  Be kind and considerate to this native-born Northwesterner.