Leopard Slug

Limax maximus

Leopard Slug, Great Grey Slug, European Giant Garden Slug, Large Garden Slug, Spotted Leopard Slug, Tiger Slug

profile iconLimax maximus 5
by Michal Maňas (CC BY 2.5)
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A close up image of a leopard slug Limax maximus on a rock
profile iconLimax maximus 5
by Michal Maňas (CC BY 2.5)
1 of 6
Limax maximus means 'biggest slug' in English. They belong to the Gastropod family Limacidae, possessing the terrestrial, air-breathing slugs. Unlike the Cellar Slugs, Leopard Slugs live a more solitary lifestyle. They're very common in gardens, cellars, hedgerows and general damp shady habitats. They aren't fussy eaters, either. These gastropods will eat anything from fungi, young plants, decaying plant material, and other slugs!
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Traits

They help to break down old and decaying plant material.
May attack young crops and plants.

Appearance

Adults: The adult slug measures between 10 and 20cm. They are extremely variable, making them difficult to ID. The main colour can be light grey to dark grey, but they can sometimes be brown or yellowish-white. The body comprises a series of black spots and longitudinal streaks. The tentacles are long, thin and yellow-brown. Eggs: The eggs are spherical and almost transparent, with a creamy white finish. They're laid in large clusters (around 10-40), found within the soil or beneath rocks.

Symptoms

Irregular sized holes in plant foliage. Silver trails of slime. Clear, see-through spherical eggs in the soil media.

Activity

Nocturnal

Personality

Family

Limacidae

Distribution

Native to Europe. Introduced to the USA, South America and some parts of Australia.

Biological treatment

It's not advised to remove these from your garden ecosystem, and to tolerate when whenever possible. Leopard slugs will help keep the area clear of other slugs. They're solitary, so won't be as aggressive as species which associate in groups. Taking note of slime trails in the garden is a good way to estimate how many slugs you're dealing with. If the slug population in your garden is getting out of hand, there are a few strategies you can try. Birds, reptiles, predatory insects and small mammals all enjoy a slug or two. Likewise, if you keep hens and ducks, these may be able to lend a hand too. Turn over soil and flower beds and expose to the birds. Its thought that by laying cardboard or black plastic beneath soil and flowerbeds, you prevent the slugs from burrowing. On a sunny day when they're hiding, you can pick them off the sheet and relocate to the bird table! Monitor young plants carefully, and cover them with mesh or plastic bottles to protect them until established. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth over the plants. This will also protect plants from caterpillars and locust. Beer traps: You can make one by pouring a little beer in a plastic cup, and by placing it in the soil. Make sure a portion of the cup is exposed above ground to avoid capturing any beneficial beetles. Some gardeners have also suggested spraying weeds with beer. The idea is to attract the slugs onto your unwanted plants. We've not tried this one, so we'd love to hear your feedback! Another homemade slug repellent to try is leftover coffee grounds mixed with water. Use sparingly, as coffee may interfere with soil pH. Another technique is to drop slugs in boiling water. Use this solution once cooled to pour and sprinkle over your prized plants. It's proposed this will repel slugs. Homemade insect repellent using garlic concentrate diluted with water is thought to be sufficient at keeping the slugs away.

Chemical treatment

Slug pellets containing Ferramol Phosphate have been confirmed for organic farming. Your traditional pellets are food-based, so will attract other wildlife, including domestic pets.
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Knowledge and advice

Search our ever-growing knowledge base to find plants and information. Find out about pests and diseases you should be keeping an eye out for. Watch How to videos or follow step by step guides for tasks in the garden. Free download for your phone or tablet.
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