Rhagor - Opening our national collections

Help us find out more about the mysterious alien "Ghost Slug"

[image: Sketch of an extended Ghost slug, with notable features]

Sketch of an extended Ghost slug, with notable features. Average length of adult slug = 6/7cms when extended.

[image: An adult Ghost Slug, about 7cms long. ]

An adult Ghost Slug, about 7cms long.

[image: The Ghost Slug's blade-like teeth]

The Ghost Slug's blade-like teeth, each about half a millimetre long. These are much longer and sharper than those of herbivorous species.

[image: Close-up of the Ghost Slug's head.]

Close-up of the Ghost Slug's head. The eyes, if present, would normally be at the tips of the two upper (longer) tentacles.

[image: A baby Ghost Slug]

A baby Ghost Slug

British gardeners may soon encounter an unexpected arrival — the bizarre Ghost Slug. First discovered in a Cardiff garden in 2007, the animal has been described as a species new to science by biologists at Amgueddfa Cymru and Cardiff University.

Scientists are researching this creature — and we need your help to find out just how common the Ghost Slug is.

Update, May 2009: Ghost Slug Update - Spring 2010

 

The Ghost Slug is an alien species, introduced to Britain around the roots of garden plants. Its nearest relatives live in the mountains of eastern Europe, Georgia and eastern Turkey.

What is the Ghost Slug?

Unlike most slugs, the Ghost Slug is carnivorous, killing earthworms at night with powerful, blade-like teeth, sucking them in like spaghetti. It is also unusual in having no eyes (it is probably blind) and is almost completely white.

It spends most of its time underground, squeezing its flexible body into cracks or tunnels to get at earthworms, which it detects by smell or taste.

Why do we want to hear from people who find it?

Very little is known about this species, but we know that it eats earthworms and can survive and breed in British gardens.

Earthworms in general are beneficial to gardeners and agriculture, and provide food for much of our wildlife, so there is a possibility that Ghost Slugs could become a pest.

To help us find out how widespread the Ghost Slug is, we are very keen to hear from anyone who finds it. To help people recognise it we have produced a free colour identification guide — you can download this guide below.

Where to find the Ghost Slug

The best way to search for Ghost Slugs is to look under plant pots, paving slabs or stones on soil, or while digging in gardens, allotments or compost heaps. They may prefer loose, rich soils with plenty of earthworms and are probably able to dig quite deep.

The babies, only a few millimetres long when they hatch and rather skinny, are quite conspicuous against dark backgrounds.

The guide also includes the Shelled Slug (Testacella sp.), which, like the Ghost Slug, is also quite mysterious. Information on sightings would also help us understand more about this slug.

If you see either Ghost Slugs or Shelled Slugs, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us using the details on the guide.

Your free identification guide

Click the image to download the identification guide.

[image: Download the Ghost Slug identification guide [PDF - 485 KB]]

Download the Ghost Slug identification guide [PDF - 485 KB]

Ghost Slug Guidelines

We have had dozens of responses from all over Britain and Ireland so far. The number of confirmed Ghost Slug records is quite small, however, and we are still keen to hear of any sightings. If you think you have seen the Ghost Slug, please note the following points:

  • tell us which species you saw (Ghost Slug, Shelled Slug, etc.)
  • tell us where and when you saw it (please include postcode for mapping purposes)
  • include digital photos if you have any. Photos or specimens are currently required to verify all Ghost Slug records.

Contact details:

We will respond to all email or 'phone enquiries. Alternatively, you can leave a comment on this page (click on the "Show Comments" button underneath). If you do leave a comment please include a contact email address.

Email: ben.rowson@museumwales.ac.uk
Phone: (029) 20573110

Article Date: 9 July 2008

101 comments

Stella Limm on 12 April 2014, 15:06

I spotted a white slug yesterday while out on an early morning walk.I was curious about it as I hadn't seen a white one before. My research brought me to your website. My postcode TA3 6HA. I have a photograph but cant seem to upload it.

Mirjam on 15 October 2013, 13:03

Saw some small white slugs, about 2 cm at daybreak one morning last week in SN5 6NX. Decided to google them, as I had never seen them before. There were a few of them moving around in the grass.

Kate Larkin on 27 September 2013, 08:43

I just found this page when searching to identify two slugs that were in my ceramic kitchen sink when I arrived home the other evening. They were pearly, almost transluscent white, about 3cm long each, and seemed to be travelling round the sink together. I didn't observe breathing holes, but they were definitely pure white, even against a white ceramic sink. I have no idea how they got there, there have been no open windows in my kitchen for some time, and no foodstuffs or soil they could have appeared out of except possibly a very small pot of locally grown basil I'd had on the side for weeks. I live in SA38 a couple of miles from Newcastle Emlyn in West Wales. Sadly I have no photos, but I did observe them closely as they were so unusual, they had eyestalks but no eyes. They didn't move at all while I was watching them, except to wave their feelers. They looked more transluscent than the one in your photo. I'm sorry I have no evidence for you.

Sarah Coulson on 23 July 2013, 22:02

I'm in West Yorkshire, 4 months ago I moved into a new build and I've got a infestation of them! When it rains you really have to watch where you step it's that bad.

A.DAVIES on 19 July 2013, 22:45

Hi I live in Chepstow south wales, np16 5aj, and have had loads of the ghost slugs over the last few days, also they seam to be destroying my lawn, where ever they have been the next day the grass is brown dying and pulls away very easily, they also prefer the newly grown grass seed that has recently grown and we did not have any in our garden until laying seed. Have not taken a photo but would be able too. I have been trying to remove them as they are destroying my lawn. They move quite fast compared to normal slugs. Amanda_jane_davies@yahoo.co.uk

Amgueddfa Cymru on 19 February 2013, 09:13

Dear p.rawlinson, thank you for sending through your observations, I have passed your comment and contact details though to our curators.
Graham Davies, Online Curator, Amgueddfa Cymru

p.rawlinson on 15 February 2013, 18:20

found one today in Ventnor isle of wight,over 1" long but more yellow than white ,was eating a worm ,I have the slug captive ,photos too, contact details suplied

John Lateano on 26 August 2012, 11:17

It wasn't a ghost slug, but I have seen a big brown slug with it's mouth on the end of an earthworm, as though it was eating it. On a pavement in Halesowen, B63 West Midlands.


alan hoff on 4 August 2012, 08:03

i have found many ghost slugs on my lawn early morning. po16 9ug
hoffa_331@hotmail.com

Tracy on 30 July 2012, 22:23

I found some whilst digging into my potato grow bag this afternoon. Freaky looking things! Unfortunately I chucked them into my compost wheelie bin without taking photos. If I find more i will take a snap. I live in Scone, Perth PH2

Samantha brown on 22 July 2012, 13:05

Through the winter i have noticed a growing population of the ghost slug in my back garden, they are only babies at the moment, i live in the swansea area, for more information, you can contact me at sammy.brown@hotmail.co.uk

Joy duBern on 10 July 2012, 10:30

Found a, or rather nearly trod on a ghost slug,as I had never seen one before, left it alone and ignored it. The following night(9th,July, 2012)saw a large white looking slug, since looking at your web found it to be a ghost slug. It was in my garden.. Northampton nn2 6qp. I measured it as it moved,12cm long and rather fat.Will update if seen again, so different.

Yvonne Wyman on 5 July 2012, 14:12

Last night whilst in the garden I noticed white slugs on my lawn 29ft sq lawn covered in them ? they may be Ghost Slugs. Help I want to get rid of them!

Mrs Y Wyman
9 Tudor Ave
Rhostyllen
LL14 4EA

kev rose on 1 June 2012, 11:12

Found several ghost slugs in my garden yesterday, I'm in fishguard , sa65 9er

Anni Brewer on 24 May 2012, 11:20

Dear Ben,
I wonder if you are still collecting data of the ghost slugs. I found these different white slugs in my greenhouse recently and suspect that I may have introduced them accidentally in commercial compost. The baby ones congregate under my tomato seedling pots, which I kept standing on the greenhouse border soil for warmth before moving out. The location is Cefneithin, SA14 7DR. They surely are a disgusting entrant to the already varied lot of creatures in my greenhouse. I have often found hairworms waving itself around and also leeches are a common sight under the water trays.
Kind regards

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