If you are at all familiar with hiking in the woods of central and northern California, you may have come across an octopus’s terrestrial mollusk relative, the California banana slug (Ariolimax californicus)! Banana slugs have a mucousy membrane covering their body that is essential for breathing, mating, and deterring predators. This golden, slimy, charismatic invertebrate has a symbiotic friend with the much larger, charasmatic, quentiscentially California redwood tree! In exchange for a cool, moist habitat that banana slugs rely on to keep their membrane nice and slimy, banana slugs will eat the redwood’s plant competitors and forest floor detritous so that their own seedlings can grow! In fact, banana slugs prefer to eat cardboard over redwood tree seedlings- talk about friendship!
[Photo and caption by Karli Chudeau]
Harper, Alice B. (1988). The Banana Slug. Aptos, California: Bay Leaves Press.
[Edited by Maggie Creamer]