The joy of discovering something new….. mating slugs & a horntail!

I spend many hours in my garden and today I saw two things that I have never seen before!

Whilst tidying up one bed this morning, I noticed these two slugs….. they were entwined with what looked like a large blob of jelly between them. I had never seen anything like it and presumed they were mating. I took a photo and left them to it. 

 

I returned a little later to see just one slug…. and no sign of the jelly, which I had presumed was some kind of slime in which the eggs were fertilised. I was wrong! On doing a little research, I discovered that this blob of jelly was in fact two slug penises, entwined! Slugs are hermaphrodite and they impregnate each other through this method and then retract their penises, laying eggs a couple of weeks later. I was pretty surprised that I had never encountered this before.

My garden is quite literally crawling with slugs at the moment… I have never had so many and some of them are enormous. I presume the wet conditions have been perfect for them to breed and they are appearing in large numbers at all of my feeding stations, particularly the hedgehog diners, where they seem to enjoy the food on offer!

I took a couple of shots of one particularly large individual…

 

 

 

My second new encounter of the day was with a large insect, that I heard before I saw, as its wings made an unusaul sound. It was pretty large and very long in the body with a bright yellow abdomen and a distinctive ovipositor, giving it a rather menacing appearance. It seemed very interested in my hub, flying around by the bare wood on the door. It landed for a few seconds and I was able to quickly snap a few shots…

 

 

 

After looking through my insect book, I discovered that this is a a Horntail (Urocerus gigas) and it is a type of sawfly. This was the female, as she has the ovispositor, which she uses like a drill to lay her eggs in pine trunks and branches, where the larvae then take 2 – 3 years to develop. I daresay this is why she was so interested in my hub! They are, in fact, harmless and are sometimes known as ‘wood wasps’. I have never seen one of these before and she was a pretty impressive looking insect! 

It is always good to discover and learn something new…