The Big Slugs Are Here

First there was a fat lump of a thing found in the Yardshare Garden here in the west end while planting squashes. And then a few weeks ago we found Leopard Slugs (Limax maximus) in our friend David’s plot at the Leslie Street Allotment Garden on the east side of Toronto.

Prior to these two sightings I had never seen slugs of this size in Toronto, or this part of Canada for that matter. Our slugs are tiny little things called Gray Garden Slugs (Agriolimax reticulatus). Tiny, but pervasive! Until recently I could always ease my mind with the knowledge that while their numbers are legion, at least we don’t have the massive banana-type monsters.

And now we do.

These new slugs are European introductions, although there is speculation that they could have come from British Columbia. There is a scientist in Toronto who is currently tracking their occurrence, and while it looks like the Leopard Slug hasn’t really reached my part of town, it will soon enough.

And I thought I had my hands full with the four neighbour cats that have made our quiet yard their hang out. I feel like I’m in a horror movie, waiting for the giant insect army to invade.

- More on another giant slug found in Etobicoke, the suburb west of my home. It’s very pretty, but no thanks.

- A video (narrated by David Attenborough) of Leopard Slugs mating. Very fascinating, but again, not in my backyard!

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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16 thoughts on “The Big Slugs Are Here

  1. I know these suckers very well. I live and garden in Newfoundland and these are a common sight at night. Pretty scary.

  2. Although they do damage, I really like the look and size of these slugs. They’ve been at the Leslie Allotments for quite a number of years (at least 15 I think), and in the east end generally, although not in large numbers.

  3. I’ve never heard of these type! They are rather pretty, but I can see the concern of trying to learn how to deal with a new invasion…

    Our West Coast banana slugs can be even larger & (in my garden) they remain rather elusive because being a food source for birds, their size & colours give them away.

    The robins this year acted almost like free-range chickens – hopping in & around all my flower & veggie beds looking for the smaller gray slugs & other bugs. I love robins!

  4. About 5? years ago, I had giant orange slugs appear in my hosta bed in Chicago. They caused a huge amount of damage is a very short time. I obsessively picked them, put out beer pots frequently, and slug bait. Then that fall, I cut everything back to the ground, blew all the leaves and mulch out of the beds and didn’t mulch it again for a couple years. No problems since, but I do not want them back. I even found them on rose bushes, foxglove plants and hydrangeas.

  5. I had these beautiful slugs when I lived in cleveland, Ohio. I was very surprised to see the picture of them here. I have never seen them anywhere else. I am sure they ate something, but I didn’t mind because they were so lovely.

  6. Really? In Ontario? I’m just moving back to Ottawa after having spent 3 years in Victoria, BC. I will be surprised to see those slugs up in Ottawa, though. But they’re fun anyway and easy enough to take care of with a little effort.

  7. I had two of this type of slugs in my garden this past summer. I was shocked when I saw their size compared to the regular tiny grey slugs. I agree that they looked a lot cuter than the grey slugs but I still don’t like them. Got to say that it was hard to kill them…

  8. Enjoying your blog, a little confused about leopard slugs though, might be a different species but in my part of Australia the belief is they eat other slugs, so I never try to eliminate them from the garden, maybe I’ve been living in a fools paradise.

  9. Greg: I haven’t heard that because they’re so new to me and this region. Would be great if that is true… depending on how aggressive they are about eating plants in the garden. If they’re more aggressive plant eaters than the small slugs, well… I don’t think I’d be too keen on keeping them in favor of the others.

  10. Did some homework this morning.
    According to Wiki the’re omnivores that eat dead plants, fungi, other slugs and demo new plants.
    I garden on about a third of an acre so I have plenty of them but have never seen one on a plant or near seedlings, unlike their cousins that are plaguing my strawberries.
    You probably don’t need to hear about strawberries going into what sounds like a pretty savage northern hemisphere winter.
    In a past life I was an inner city gardener growing mainly in pots and tiny plots so I’m enjoying your articles, keep up the good work.

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