September 11, 2008 [LINK / comment]

That's what I call a "slugfest"!

Jacqueline noticed something strange on the side of the balcony while we were having dinner with some friends recently, and was disgusted when she realized what it was. Fortunately I had the new Nikon digital camera ready for the photo op:

Great Gray Slugs

Great Gray Slugs, in a "romantic" encounter.

Not only are slugs slimy, disgusting garden pests, their behavior is positively shocking, according to our standards anyway. According to the often-reliable Wikipedia,

Slugs are hermaphrodites, having both female and male reproductive organs.
Once a slug has located a mate, they encircle each other and sperm is exchanged through their protruded genitalia. A few days later around 30 eggs are laid into a hole in the ground, or under the cover of objects such as fallen logs.
For a species of slug that has an unusually elaborate mating procedure, see Great grey slug. A commonly seen practice among many slugs is apophallation. The penis of these species is curled like a cork-screw and often becomes entangled in their mate's genitalia in the process of exchanging sperm. When all else fails, apophallation allows the slugs to separate themselves by one or both of the slugs chewing off the other's penis. Once its penis has been removed, a slug is still able to mate subsequently, but using only the female parts of its reproductive system.

Eew-w-w! I'll be posting more photos of other creepy critters soon...