An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Gastropods

Slug Eggs

If you spend enough time looking under rotting logs, you’re bound to come across the tiny, pearly white eggs of a slug. With the right climate conditions, slugs will mate and lay eggs twice in a summer — once early in the spring, and once in late summer. Thirty to forty days after mating, the female slug lays her eggs under leaves, mulch, or in some other cool and moist location. They will hatch in 10 to 100 days — the length of time slug eggs take to hatch depends upon the temperature – the warmer it is, the faster they hatch.


Eyelash Cup Fungus

Fungi can be divided into two groups – basidiomycetes and ascomycetes.  Basidiomycetes (gilled mushrooms, coral fungus, hedgehog  mushrooms, puffballs, bird’s nest fungus) produce spores on the surface of microscopic cells called basidea.  Ascomycetes (morels, cup fungi, stinkhorns) produce their spores within microscopic sacs (asci).  The slug in this photograph is dining on an ascomycete  — eyelash cup fungus (Scutellinia scutellata), the rim of which bears many stiff, eyelash-like hairs.


Snails and Slugs

Snails and slugs are grouped together as gastropods – a class of Mollusks that includes land, freshwater and sea snails and slugs.  The term “snail” is used for species with an external shell large enough for the soft parts to withdraw completely into it. Those gastropods without a shell, and those with only a very reduced or internal shell, are usually known as “slugs.” We refer to many marine gastropods as seashells, including whelks, conchs, cowries, olives, cone shells, figs and tulips.  While many gastropods are herbivorous grazers, several groups are carnivores, capable of drilling through the skeleton of their prey.


NATURALLY CURIOUS–THE BOOK–WILL BE HERE SOON!

I am delighted to be able to share the good news that you can now pre-order my book, Naturally Curious!  I’ve just seen an advance copy, and the printer did a wonderful job with the photographs, and Trafalgar Square did an equally eye-catching job on the layout – I can truly say I am delighted with the end product of a lifetime of photographing, observing, collecting and researching natural history.  How lucky can one get to have the opportunity to put what one treasures most between the covers of a book?   Naturally Curious will be out October 18th.  If you’re in need of a Christmas present for someone, it might be just the ticket!

I’m offering my blog readers the opportunity to pre-order signed copies of Naturally Curious at a special discount price of $35.00 from my publisher’s web site. This offer is only good until October 15, 2010, at which time the regular retail price of $39.95 will apply. CLICK HERE to take advantage of this special offer!


Slugs -Welcome to a photographic journey through the fields, woods and marshes of New England

Many of the images and much of the information in this blog can be found in my book, Naturally Curious, which is being published this fall.

SLUGS

A slug is basically a snail that lacks or has a greatly reduced (internal) shell. Because of this, slugs tend to dry out quite easily and thus inhabit mostly moist environments, retreating to damp hiding places when the weather is dry. A close look at a slug reveals two pairs of tentacles on its head. The upper pair senses light and the lower pair has the ability to smell things. Both pairs are retractable, and can be regrown if damaged. A slug’s sexual organs (they are hermaphroditic, possessing both male and female parts) are located under the saddle-shaped mantle behind its head. When open, the hole through which respiration takes place is visible on the side of the mantle. In the right light, it is possible to see the layer of mucus, or slime trail, that slugs secrete and on which they travel. This mucus protects the foot of the slug and also contains fibers which prevent the slug from slipping down vertical surfaces. Anyone who has picked up a slug knows that they also coat their own body with slippery mucus, which not only keeps it moist, but helps it elude the grasp of predators.


Land Snails – Welcome to a photographic journey through the fields, woods, and marshes of New England

Many of the images and much of the information in this blog can be found in my book, Naturally Curious, which is being published this fall.

LAND SNAILS

Land snails are gastropods, whose members also include aquatic snails (including marine snails) and slugs. The name gastropod means stomach-foot, which is well-deserved, as members of this group all get about by gliding on a muscular structure on the bottom of the abdomen, called the foot. A close look at a snail reveals two sets of projections, or tentacles, on the front of its head. The two longer ones on top reach up, whereas the two shorter ones beneath them tend to reach down. The top, longer tentacles have light-sensitive organs at their tips, making them the snail's version of eyes, although they only perceive light, not images. The shorter tentacles below them feel, taste and smell the environment in search of food and water and possible predators.