02 June 2009

A good year for red slugs

Yesterday when I took Callie out for the morning walk, we went up to the top of the vineyard, on the other side of a stand of pine and oak trees. There's a lot of undergrowth in that little wood.

Some of the plants growing as undergrowth look to me like a kind of horsetail Scotch broom, which is called prêle genêt in French. It's an invasive weed. I'm also allergic to its pollen. (This is a revised version of my text, thanks to CHM's comment.)

The broom up at the top of the vineyard has grown big, and it has not only the brush-like leaves that I know, but also smaller flat leaves growing among them. And, most strikingly, it has a multitude of what I would call pea pods growing on it.

I was inspecting these interesting plants when I realized they were full of huge red slugs, which were probably feeding on the new growth. First I saw two of them, then I started noticing more and more. They are three or four inches long and they were climbing around quite acrobatically in the low shrubs.

While some people find slugs and snails disgusting, I can't conceive how you wouldn't see beauty in these particular ones. All the rains we had in May plus warm weather must have provided them with ideal conditions this year. I've seen them regularly since we arrived here 6 years ago, but never in such numbers.

The very bright-colored red slugs were surprisingly hard to see among the green leaves and stems of vegetation. I had to look pretty hard to find them, even after I realized there were a lot of them hiding in there.


  1. Can you eat the slugs, you think?

  2. It seems to me those plants are some kind of broom or Fabaceae. Prêles or horsetails don't have flat leaves and do not belong to the pea family.

  3. CHM, now that I think about it I bet they are Scotch Broom -- genêt.

  4. That's exactly what I had in mind

  5. A sprig of which Henry II's father, Geoffrey, wore in his cap... Planta-genêt! I believe that Walt wrote of this before :)) I'd never seen it before... thanks for the photo.

    It's been uber hot here... 91°F yesterday! What is that... about 32, 33° C? When I left my classroom yesterday, the air was NOT WORKING, and it was very uncomfortable... our building is not made with huge windows that provide cross ventilation, so if the AC isn't working and it's this hot... yuck.


  6. Sorry I missed your anniversary yesterday, Congratulations and good wishes for 26 more, at least!

    Those are some slugs! Three or four inches long?!

    I spent all day yesterday working in my backyard and the only critters I found were ticks! UGH!


  7. Caroline, I've never heard of anybody eating slugs, but I wonder why not.

    Hi BettyAnn, we have tons of ticks here too. We pick a couple a day off of Callie.

    Judy, I don't envy you that kind of weather. I hate AC myself and am glad we don't have to have it here in Saint-Aignan.

  8. I got a tick yesterday too, but my reward was seeing 10 species of orchid at a single site.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?