The Pacific Northwest, where I grew up, is motherland for slugs of all sizes. The commonest in my particular neighborhood were Ariolimax columbianus, which some people call “banana slugs”; they’re about the size of a small banana, they’re yellow/brown with dark spots, and they glisten in the sun. See the above photo if you’re not familiar with them.



They also turn into little mounds of foam if you pour salt on them.



We imported little brown slugs from my Grandma Boitano’s house one summer when she gave us some plants. These we called “Italian slugs,” because we called everything that Grandma gave us “Italian.” Italian slugs were a little more durable than their banana cousins, but salt did the trick on them too, eventually.



I am given to understand that, up in the wilds of British Columbia, our friend Ariolimax can grow up to foot long, and can engulf a small animal, given enough time, and given that the animal stays very very still. I’d like to see that.



My favorite slug story is that of my school friend Kate. She has a dim recollection of toddling through the garden with something clutched in her hand, and her mother yelling, “Spit it out! Spit it out!”



The thing in her hand was a banana slug.



No, I’m sorry: I meant to say half of a banana slug.




About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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