New Brunswick

Giant slugs slither into Saint John

The wet spring may be dampening the spirits of some Saint John residents but some giant slugs are thriving in this stretch of soggy weather.
Many Saint John residents are being forced to cope with an invasion of large slugs this spring. (Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon/CBC)

The wet spring may be dampening the spirits of some Saint John residents but some giant slugs are thriving in this stretch of soggy weather.

Many homeowners are discovering the giant slugs, called limax maximus, are invading their gardens.

Mark Shannon, who works at a Kent Building Supplies in Saint John, said they've been fielding more questions than usual about the slimy critters.

"This time last year, it was so warm and so humid, you didn't really get a lot. But now where it's so wet and damp, gardens and stuff are going to be full of them," Shannon said.

Donald McAlpine's slug recipe

  • Purge slugs by feeding them for five days on a single item (i.e. lettuce, cabbage)
  • Starve slugs for two days to remove digested material
  • Put slugs in the freezer to kill them
  • Soak slugs in coldwater with a dash of vinegar and bring to a simmer
  • Drain the slugs and wash under tap water. Remove slime with fingers
  • Repeat the washing and washing with fresh vinegar at least three times
  • Put the slugs on a pan of fresh water and some sliced carrot and onion and a bay leaf
  • Bring to a simmer and cook until tender
  • If the slugs need to be gutted, make a slit one-third of the way down the back and remove the intestines

"Everyone's been coming in and [saying the] same thing, 'How do we get rid of our slugs?'"

Shannon said there are plenty of child- and pet-friendly products available to get rid of the slugs, including organic powders and traps. As well, setting out salt, beer and crushed egg shells can also be used to rid lawns and gardens of the slimy creatures.

Parker Cogswell has no problem ridding his manicured uptown garden of dandelions, but the slugs are proving to be his nemesis this spring.

"They're everywhere," Cogswell said.

"The leaves are all chewed. It really is frustrating."

The slugs in Cogswell's garden are roughly 10 centimetres long and are as thick as his thumb.

Donald McAlpine, research curator of zoology at the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John, said the giant slugs are commonly known as the giant spotted leopard slug because of their markings.

"These are by far the largest slug in this region, probably one of the largest, if not the largest slug in Canada," McAlpine said.

McAlpine said the slugs thrive in damp, dark places.

So not surprisingly, this soggy spring has left many Saint John gardens under siege.

However, the zoologist said there is another way to deal with the slugs.

"There's no reason that they wouldn't be edible. So perhaps rather than trying to get rid of them out of your garden, we should, you know mix them up with a few garden greens and try them for dinner," he said.