One of our readers found this in her garden in Vero Beach, Florida:
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She said the organism is 2.5-3 inches long. It has a dark green dorsal side and a pale green ventral side. It also has two antennae or tentacles on its anterior end. Our reader thinks it is probably a flatworm. We can see why she thinks this, but we aren’t so sure.
Terrestrial flatworms, or land planarians, are members of the Geoplanidae family. There are tens of thousands of species of flatworms, but many of them are aquatic. Gardeners commonly discover terrestrial flatworms in their gardens, which is where our reader found this creature. However, flatworms lack the anterior tentacles that this specimen has.
We believe that the specimen in question is actually a slug, not a flatworm. Slug is a common name for any terrestrial gastropod mollusk lacking a shell. The majority of slugs have two pairs of tentacles on their anterior end. One pair is used for light sensing, and the other pair provides sense of smell. We can only see one set of tentacles on the specimen in the photo our reader sent, but the other pair is likely underneath. Slugs play a crucial role in the ecosystem because they eat decaying plant material and fungi, as well as other vegetation. While they prefer tender leaves, they will really eat anything that is available. Slugs thrive in a environment with high moisture levels.
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Our reader didn’t sound anxious to get rid of the organism she found, or imply that her garden was overpopulated with these creatures. While our reader might not agree, some people do consider slugs to be pests. If our reader wants to get rid of the slugs, we have two natural solutions to repel them. First, she can monitor areas of the garden that collect a lot of moisture, like mulch beds. She can also introduce natural predators to slugs into her garden, like non-poisonous snakes and toads.
In conclusion, one of our readers found a green slimy organism in her garden. We believe that the specimen is a slug!