Caterpillar slug (Laevicaulis haroldi)

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Caterpillar slug
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Caterpillar slug fact file

Caterpillar slug description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumMollusca
ClassGastropoda
OrderStylommatophora
FamilyVeronicellidae
GenusLaevicaulis (1)

This distinctive-looking species earns its common name for its unusual resemblance to a caterpillar, largely due to its somewhat wrinkled appearance and colour pattern. The long, slender body varies in shade, but usually displays bold alternating bands of dark brown and cream colour, with a paler mid-region and darker ends. The upper tentacles are pale brown, the lower ones greyish, and the sole (underside) of the foot is a slightly translucent cream colour (2)

Size
Extended length: up to 90 mm (2)
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Caterpillar slug biology

Virtually nothing is known of this slug’s biology and behaviour in the wild. Like other slugs of the Veronicellidae family, this species is presumed to be herbivorous (3).

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Caterpillar slug range

Known only from a few isolated localities in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa(2).

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Caterpillar slug habitat

From the limited data available, the caterpillar slug appears to be associated with marshes and waterside vegetation, although it may not be exclusive to such habitat (2).

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Caterpillar slug status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered

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Caterpillar slug threats

The caterpillar slug is threatened by habitat loss and degradation as a result of ongoing urbanisation and development within its range. The original site of collection in a marsh near Durban has since been destroyed to make way for a road. These threats are exacerbated by the slug’s already restricted range, which makes it especially vulnerable to the effects of its changing environment (2).

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Caterpillar slug conservation

Although there are currently no conservation measures directly targeting the caterpillar slug, individuals have been observed in Hluhluwe Game Reserve, where its habitat may receive some protection. Furthermore, its appearance in suburban gardens in the Pietermaritzburg area suggests that this slug may be adaptable to a certain degree of habitat modification, flexibility that would undoubtedly help its prospects of survival (2).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For more information on the caterpillar slug see:

  • Herbert, D.G. & Kilburn, R.N. (2004) Field guide to the land snails and slugs of eastern South Africa. 340pp. Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg.

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Authentication

Authenticated (13/07/2006) by Dr. Dai G. Herbert, Chief Curator: Mollusca, Natal Museum, and member of the IUCN/SSC Southern African Invertebrate, and Mollusc Specialist Groups.
http://www.nmsa.org.za/

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Glossary

Herbivorous
Diet comprises only vegetable matter.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (July, 2006)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Inland Invertebrate Initiative: Database of Threatened Invertebrates of South Africa (July, 2006)
    http://www.ukzn.ac.za/redlist/detail_page.asp?id=79
  3. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online (July, 2006)
    http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-35729
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Image credit

Caterpillar slug  
Caterpillar slug

© Dai Herbert / Natal Museum

Dai Herbert, Natal Museum
dherbert@nmsa.org.za

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