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Thursday, 4 September 2014

Leaf-veined Slugs

Athoracophorus bitentaculatus? Leaf-veined Slug. Compact, dormant posture.

While on a walk in the Waitakere Ranges, I found this weird, gelatinous blob stuck to the underside of a leaf - perhaps some kind of egg-sac? But then as I examined it more closely it sprouted eye stalks, became slug-shaped and shot off at speed across the leaf!

Athoracophorus bitentaculatus? Leaf-veined Slug. Active - moving at speed.
This is no ordinary slug. With its leaf-vein pattern and distinctive body shape. It lacks an obvious mantle - the lump on the back which makes European slugs slug shaped. It belongs to a group called leaf-veined slugs - many are native to New Zealand, the rest come from neighbouring islands and Australia.

Athoracophorus bitentaculatus? Leaf-veined Slug
I haven't been able to find much information on these creatures either on line or in Auckland library. Particularly no mentions of what struck me as their remarkable alacrity. Here's one of the more informative websites: link! The two that I have seen so far look very like Athoracophorus bitentaculatus, which seems to be the most commonly encountered species in New Zealand.

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