The boys came home from dinner out with Dan, burst through the door, and yelled
From upstairs, what I heard was: "Mom! Mom! garblewambleeddittyecho PUMPKINS!"
As it turned out, when they arrived home, they found slugs on Reese's giant jack-o-lantern, which is still on the front porch. The rest, having been ravaged by squirrels and several species of mold, were cleaned up earlier in the week before they could completely liquefy, leaving behind a few uncarved squash and the 37-pound pumpkin. It has not been ravaged by squirrels but does seem to be growing more types of mold than I knew existed, but it's still structurally sound, and I lacked a wagon at the time, hence its availability in mid-November for slug infestation.
I went out to inspect with two excited children (the third having fallen asleep in the car), and sure enough, there were two garden slugs hanging out on the pumpkin, presumably having a little nosh of its pungent flesh.
You know what this means, of course. Time for a flashlight and camera.
Nothin' like a slug between the eyes:
I adore their little eyestalks, more correctly termed cephalic tentacles (as opposed to the pair of oral tentacles near the mouth). The tentacle-shadow here amuses me, too:
I think he should be named Aloysius and be the hero of a slug-themed graphic novel. He would fight crime with the power of decomposition.
And THIS is the MOST EXCELLENT SLUG DISCOVERY EVER:
When I shone the flashlight from the side, I could see their internal organs. Awesome. Oh, and yes "most excellent ever" does imply that I have made other slug discoveries. And I have. Because slugs are awesome.
This morning there are no slugs on the pumpkins, and the only clues as to where they might be are the silvery dried trails down the brick steps. I wondered what a slug bite out of a pumpkin might look like, but when I examine the flesh between the eyes of the jack-o-lantern, I see nothing, and I cannot feel anything significant in the surface of the pumpkin skin, either. This leads me to wonder how big a slug bite is, or if the slugs investigated the pumpkin and found it to be a dissatisfactory source of food.
If you're interested in slugs, you might like the anatomical/physiological information at invertebrate anatomy online, which includes a hand-drawn diagram of a large slug dissection. To get an idea of how one might identify a particular species of slug, take a look at the comprehensive dichotomous key with photos, hosted by Evergreen State College in Washington state. The slugs begin with item 370, about 2/3 of the way down the page. The integrated pest management site for NC State University also has a simplified key.