The Habitat Acquisition Trust is looking for residents to help look for blue-grey tail dropper slugs around Mill Hill

On the hunt for tiny blue slugs

The Habitat Acquisition Trust is looking for volunteers to sleuth for glowing blue slugs.

The Habitat Acquisition Trust is looking for volunteers to sleuth for glowing blue slugs known as blue-grey taildroppers.

The rare and endangered slugs reside through wide swath of the Capital Region, spanning Metchosin to Saanich, usually forested and lake areas.

“We know they are in certain areas like Mill Hill, Thetis Lake, Matheson Lake, Mount Work and Prospect Lake,” said Todd Carnahan, land co-ordinator with HAT.

HAT is looking for residents in these areas to host and check monitoring stations on their property. It’s low tech — the station consists of a piece of cardboard secured to the ground, and volunteers check under the cardboard to see if any slugs are hanging out.

“The board provides shade, moisture and cover from predators,” Carnahan said.

These small slugs measure a couple centimetres in length have sophisticated self-defense tactics. When attacked or threatened, blue-gray taildroppers can drop their tail on the ground, hence their name. It continues to wiggle to distract a predator’s attention so the slug can make a slow getaway.

“These slugs are an important part of the rarest ecosystems in Canada, Carnahan said. “They are one of 120 species that depend on the Gary oak ecosystems.”

Blue-grey taildropper slugs are red listed as endangered at the federal level.

“The federal government helps local organizations help to secure the species,” Carnahan said. “Often we have to figure out where they live first.”

This project is help to find out where the taildroppers are living and will provide HAT with information to build on what to do next.

“If you haven’t studied something, you can’t determine its value,” Carnahan said. “We know they live in Gary oak ecosystems, but we don’t know if they require Gary oak ecosystems to survive.”

Carnahan suspects that areas where these slugs are living may also be home to other endangered species.

Last May the slugs were found in a Capital Regional District park in Metchosin cuddled inside a mushroom cap, discovered during a species counting event while someone was counting mushrooms.

The slugs prefer to live in areas that include Douglas fir forests, Gary oak meadows and in ocean spray bushes.

“People are really excited about this, it’s like finding a magical animal in the woods,” Carnahan said.

Anyone living in the Thetis Lake, Mill Hill, Matheson Lake, Mount Work and Prospect Lake areas interested in setting up and tending to a monitoring station call Carnahan at 250-995-2428.

If you see a slug that might be a blue-grey taildropper, email photos to hatmail@hat.bc.ca for identification.

 

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com