Country diary: on the trail of the monster mollusc

Country diary: on the trail of the monster mollusc

East Dartmoor, Devon: Lurking in the woodland is an elusive member of the invertebrate night shift – the ash-black slug

Gardeners, look away now. There are slugs in all directions, scattered by the dozen across the damp ground like wine gums – lemon yellow, apricot orange, pale pear, glossy blackcurrant.

I stoop to check the appearance of the darker individuals, only they are tiddlers compared with the species I am searching for. I press on, following my torch beam beneath the woodland canopy in the Dart Valley. Where the track passes through a stand of oak trees I inspect the mossy tangles of roots and furrowed trunks. This is a good place to look, I’m told by the local entomologist John Walters.

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