Photographer: Dr. Matthew McClure Source: Professor, Lamar State College- Orange, TX
This terrestrial slug is from the family Veronicellidae (leatherleaf slugs) andcan grow up to 3.5 inches in length. As the common name suggest, this slug is typically jet black with an inconspicuous tan stripe down the underside. They have two ocular tentacles that are also black. The velvety/wrinkled mantle covers the entire length of the body. Both the breathing pore (pneumostome) and anus are located posteriorly. Young slugs are not as dark, and their underside is much lighter.
In Honduras, where it is also invasive, it was reported as an important vector of the nematode parasite Angiostrongylus costaricensis that causes abdominal angiostrongyliasis in humans. Thankfully, it has not been confirmed to vector this nematode in the states it is present. Their insatiable appetite makes them a threat to many kinds of grasses and plants.
Belocaulus angustipes is typically nocturnal, and avoid sunlight extreme heat, cold or low humidity. They tend to live underneath living or inanimate objects such as fallen trees, planks and garden pots.
Belocaulus angustipes was first collected in Mobile, Alabama in August of 1960; then in New Orleans shortly thereafter. After being misidentified as Vermicella ameghini, in 1989 it was suggested to be Belocaulus angustipes, and was decisively confirmed in 2009. It was found in South Carolina in 2007, and an Oklahoma greenhouse in 2011.
South America: Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina
U.S. Habitat: Since they are intolerant of low humidity the sup-tropical southeastern United State are very suitable. Commonly found in St. Augustine grass, they can also be found under rocks, boards, flower pots, greenhouses and even in the hearts of plants such as lettuce or cabbage. With the black leatherleaf slug having such a voracious and scavenging appetite, they could establish in urban, suburban and rural areas.
AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, OK, SC and TX
Texas: Found repeatedly on Lamar State College’s campus in Orange, TX. Over 2017-2020 the known distribution has expanded in Texas, thanks to diligent citizens reporting and mailing in specimens to the Texas Invasive Species Institute.
It has been found in: Anderson, Aransas, Atascosa, Bastrop, Bexar, Brazoria, Brazos, Calhoun Cameron, Chambers, Comal, Dallas, DeWitt, El Paso, Ellis, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Guadalupe, Harris, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, Nueces, Orange, Parker, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Smith, Travis, Walker, Washington, Webb, Williamson and Wilson Counties.
The black velvet leatherleaf slug doesn't closely resemble any native terrestrial slugs.
USDA/ APHIS has placed a request for specimens and/or distributional data of this mollusk. Please click here and read and follow instructions if you have found a specimen near you.
Ideally, we would be able to pick up specimens reported to us, but sometimes it isn't feasible. Please email Ashley Morgan-Olvera, M.Sc. (email@example.com) or Dr. Matthew McClure (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information.
** After handling live slugs, hands should be washed in hot soapy water, and rinsed in alcohol or a standard hand disinfectant. Although abdominal angiostrongyliasis is not yet reported in the region where the slug has been detected, it is recommended that latex gloves be worn, or at least samples handled using a plastic bag**
Capinera, J. L., White, J., & Bernon, G. Terrestrial Slugs of Florida (Mollusca: Stylommatophora: Veronicellidae, Phylomycidae, Agrolimacidae and Limacidae).
Cowie, R. H., Dillon Jr, R. T., Robinson, D. G., & Smith, J. W. (2009). Alien non-marine snails and slugs of priority quarantine importance in the United States: a preliminary risk assessment. American Malacological Bulletin, 27(1/2), 113-132.
Dundee, D. S. and P. Watt, 1961. Louisiana land snails with new records. The Nautilus 75(2): 79-83.
Rambo, P. R., Agostini, A. A., & Graeff-Teixeira, C. (1997). Abdominal angiostrongylosis in southern Brazil-Prevalence and parasitic burden in mollusc intermediate hosts from eighteen endemic foci. Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, 92, 9-14.
Walls JG. 2009. Just a plain black slug: Belocaulus angustipes. American Conchologist 37: 28-29.