It’s always a good idea to look where we’re stepping while on a hike, but it’s especially important at this time of year to avoid squishing a Banana Slug, named for its resemblance to a banana. These martian-like mollusks are endemic to the PNW and are the second largest slug in the world, sometimes reaching a quarter pound and ten inches long.
Most mollusks, like oysters, octopuses, and snails, live in the water or have a hard shell to keep from dehydrating. However, slugs are unique in that they don’t live in the water or have a shell. Instead, they secrete mucus to keep from drying out.
During especially dry times, these invertebrate critters will enter into a state of aestivation, which is like hibernation, but during the summer. It does so by insulating itself with mucus, soil, and organic debris; and remaining inactive until its environment is wet enough. This mechanism is partly why they can live up to seven years.
Pro tip: Don’t touch the slime, it’s nearly impossible to get off!
It won’t be long before the dry weather is here and the Banana Slugs will be all but gone, so you better get out here soon to see the slimy guys ever so slowly cross the trail.
Keep slugging along,