Urocyclus flavescens

Family

Urocyclidae

Species

Urocyclus flavescens (Keferstein, 1866)

Common Name

African banana slug

Description

The color of this slug is variable, ranging from pale yellow, lemon-yellow, green-yellow, yellow-brown to gray. The mantle is typically greenish, and generally covers the anterior third of the dorsum. The dorsal surface is typically uniform in color, except for two faint lateral stripes. In rare cases, there may exist a third stripe medially. A mixture of color variants typically exists in a single population. This slender slug will attain a maximum length of 60 mm. The body of the African banana slug quickly tapers from front to back, giving an unusually angular appearance to the posterior section of the animal. A keel is absent. There are also minute longitudinal grooves on the dorsum. These grooves are transected by shorter transverse grooves. There is a prominent caudal pore at the posterior end of the animal. The middle of the animal is characteristically vaulted (humped), causing the tail to appear narrower than the body. The sole of the foot is tripartite with the middle appearing narrower than the sides. The foot fringe is typically uniform (no vertical bands).

Native Range

East Africa

Distribution

Africa: Southern

Ecology

The African banana slug has been documented as a pest of banana. This slug will damage the fruit by rasping at the peel. This results in necrotic scaring which reduces the marketability (reduced sales and outright rejection of the fruit) of the fruit. Entire bunches can be lost, and losses of greater than 10 % is not atypical. It can be found in banana plantations, forests (inside and at the edge), dune forest and gardens. The slugs do not seem to have microhabitat preferences, and they can be found out in the open, in grass, under logs and buried between the hands on banana bunches. This species colonize habitats ranging from sea level up to an altitude of 1400 m. This species is nocturnal and lays its eggs during spring. The eggs can be found buried in the soil or under plant material. Hatching commences during spring rains if favorable conditions prevail. The juveniles then proceed up banana plants where they would feed. The juveniles of Urocyclus flavescens are drought resistant. During periods of drought, they have the ability to survive several months in aestivation, both in the soil and under plant material on the ground.

Synonyms

  • Parmarion flavescens Keferstein, 1866. Malak. Bl., 13: 70, pl. 2 figs. 1-8.
  • Elisolimax rufescens Simroth

References

Barker 2002; Forcart 1967; Hausdrof 2000; Van Bruggen and Appleton 1977

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