Oct 13, 2008

Of Slug and Bug Eyes

Lee Ann went on a road trip this summer and snapped shots of some of the critters she encountered. Here are but two of them.

I've looked into the eyes of an elephant and sworn I saw an intelligent mind looking back at me. I've looked into the eyes of a puma that was being walked past me within a couple of feet and sworn I saw unmitigated malevolence. But I've had zero reaction when looking a slug in the eyes.

I believe you are now looking a black slug (
Arion ater) in the face. Also known as the black menace, this slug is an unwelcome addition to any lawn or garden. Their nasty-tasting slime is a deterrent to most would-be hunters, but some animals still hunt them (can you really hunt a slug? at least, with any pride in calling it hunting?). Just keep some hedgehogs or badgers in your garden, and voila, no slugs. But then you're stuck with pesky hedgehogs and badgers.

UPDATE: there is a consensus among readers: The second bug is a wheel bug. Don't ever trust me to come up with a good bug ID. I'll go flagellate myself now.

Last we have a gray bug from Pennsylvania. I think it's some variant of a squash bug. But there are roughly 1,800 species in the Coreidae family, so I can't get more specific. Suffice it to say that this bug probably just dined on *gasp* a squash or other food plant of some sort. Again, no emotional reaction from looking it in the eye. Maybe that's just my 'higher order animal' bias. I'm such a bigot.

Thanks, Lee Ann.


Kickdrive said...

That grey bug looks like a Wheelbug or an Assasin bug of some sort. Supposedly very painfull if they nail you with that probiscus.

Unknown said...

The insect is indeed a wheelbug. They are predatory and I've seen them preying on wasps before. Their bite is excruciatingly painful; I made the mistake of grabbing one to get a better look at its underside (the bug was non-aggressive when I merely coaxed it to walk onto my hand). Immediately the wheelbug whipped out its proboscis and injected flesh-melting enzymes under my fingernail. I immediately let go and doubled over in agony as if my finger had been stabbed with a white-hot knife.
The throbbing pain subsided in two minutes, after which I carefully escorted the wheelbug out of harm's way (it had flown onto a sidewalk). It took several weeks for the bitten area to fully heal.
I look back on that experience fondly, though I have no desire to repeat it and thus have never grasped a wheelbug since. I love these bugs more than ever now; their combination of stealthy hunting, cogwheel-shaped backs, and a bite that packs a punch makes them incredibly badass.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a story, Erin. That was nice of you to get it off the sidewalk instead of squishing it after it bit you. >.< Eeek!

I like slugs. Guess it's more like I feel sorry for them; they seem so helpless. When we were *very* young my brother used to dabble salt on them or burn them through a toy magnifying glass. Although it was purely scientific intentions on my brother's part, I saw what it was doing and cried my head off and went to tattle tale.

From then on, my parents tried to encourage him with other less harmful scientific experiments for children.

I like that slug picture. Nicely taken.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Slugs. Nothing quite as squishy or slimy as them (we'll keep those mobile home living snails out of this). Gotta show some respect something that eats and deficates out of the same orfice. Kinda like some people I know. Lol.

The wheel bug however looks like something out of the latest CGI horror flick. With that story in mind I'll make sure to stay out of shadowy copses and dimly lit bushes. Thank you for that. =P

As always pictures are very good, quite impressive with the slug. Makes it look like one of the Slugs from the horror flick (horribly outdated, all about Man eating, flesh melting slugs).

Anonymous said...

slugs don't really have much expression but some snails really do have eerily human features. Conch snails have human looking eyes and they seem to follow you around sometimes. I used to have one and man did it creep me out.


not my photo, but you can see those weird eyes.

Anonymous said...

I like the wheel bug. It looks vaguely bat-like -- right up my alley. I've never been bitten by a bug I encouraged to crawl on my hand (and there have been quite a few, some ridiculously large). But then I've never tried to upend one, either!

Unknown said...

Actually, slugs do not eat and defecate through the same orifice. They have a mouth between their foot and their sensory tentacles, and an anus underneath the right side of their mantle. I used to have European black slugs (same as the species pictured) as pets and I did sometimes see long columns of green excrement spiraling out from under their mantles.

Alison said...

"...long columns of spiraling green excrement..."

Erin, you are an artist with words.

zeda said...

The insect shown is in the family Reduviidae. This one is the common name, as others have said, wheel bug.

Nonexistant Black Feather said...

I <3 slugs. At least the bigger kinds that you can see the faces of. Used to watch banana slugs in Oregon. You'd frequently see them sitting on or next to piles of slug poo. mmm.