Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lehmania valentiana

lehmania_valentianasm.jpg

Judy collected 15 slugs from beneath flower pots in a Richmond greenhouse on 19 February, for me to paint for the book "Identifying Introduced Land Snails and Slugs in Canada, With a Guide to Native Genera". I've been keeping them in a clear plastic salad box with damp paper towel, crushed eggshell, and romaine lettuce, calling them "my little pigs" for the way they devour the lettuce, turning the heavy-veined leaves into soggy lace, and then lying packed together in clusters like miniature piglets, sleeping it off.

They have also been laying eggs, which you can see glowing like a mass of pearls through their translucent sides - most visible on the right hand side. There are paler and darker individuals. The darker ones appear to be more mottled, and the paler ones show the characteristic "watery tail". The slime is clear and the breathing hole, or pneumostome, has a pale rim. The best character for identification of this rather nondescript looking slug is the "lyre-shaped" marking on the mantle. We have two immatures, with a pair of very striking pinstripes going down their backs from the rear margin of the mantle to the tail tip.

The individual I have painted is mature, and full of eggs. It is 45mm from head to tail. The smaller dorsal view shows the back pattern of the same animal. Lehmania valentiana used to be called Limax valentiana. It is native to south-western Europe and lives in greenhouses all over the world - a successful "little pig", and probably highly appropriate for my first watercolour of this project.

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What do you think of this painting, and what do you know about the subject that I have painted?