What has a pale complexion, a mysterious past, and only moves around at night?
The riddle may sound like the plot of a supernatural Christmas tale. And indeed, conservationists in Devon do believe that they have discovered a ghost. But it just so happens that this ghost is not a Yuletide apparition, but a slug.
The mollusc in question is called a Ghost Slug, a species which is normally a native of the Ukraine where it lives in mountain forests. But this Ghost Slug has turned up in the gardens of Devon Wildlife Trust’s Cricklepit Mill, in the middle of urban Exeter.
It’s thought to be the first time the slug, which has the scientific name Selenochlamys ysbryda, has been found in Devon. The species was first reported in the UK in 2008. Since then there have been a scattering of ghost slug sightings, mainly from South Wales, in and around Cardiff.
The slug which can measure up to 7 or 8cm in length, is a distinctive, ghostly white in colour. Even its eye stalks and eyes are white, indeed Ghosts Slugs are thought to be blind. It’s these unusual looks which have given rise to the name, Ghost Slug.
Devon Wildlife Trust’s Steve Hussey said: “We’re not sure how the Ghost Slug found its way into our garden. It may have been introduced on plants, soil or compost brought in from elsewhere. We were lucky that an experienced ecologist was on hand to make the identification. This species may be present in other Devon locations but because it isn’t easy to spot and because little is known about it, it may be that they are under-recorded elsewhere.”