These slimy guys just want a moist place to live

As the rainy season ends slimy creatures that like moisture are looking for new homes. They may end up in the house.

These are the many species of slugs that live in Costa Rica. Basically they are like their cousins, snails, but without the shell.

Besides being a yucky addition to household, particularly if stepped on, they can be harmful.

From time to time Costa Rican health authorities issue warnings noting that many of the slugs host parasites that can be harmful to humans.

Nobody eats slugs on purpose, even though the signature dish of French restaurants comes close. But slugs like plant matter, and a slug can easily become chopped up in a salad if the cook does not wash the veggies carefully.

The Ministerio de Salud has noted that slugs are hosts to Angiostrongylus costaricensis.This is a nematode that in juvenile form lives within slugs. If ingested, the parasite can cause stomach pain and possible damage to the intestines. Although most people would not knowingly eat slugs, scientists think that the nematode can be found in the secretion that slugs leave behind when they travel. This could be on vegetables or fruit.

In one study some 50 percent of the slugs collected were hosts to the parasite. The creature is called a babosa  in Spanish.

Like their cousins, slugs are slow travelers, so they are food for many creatures. And that is part of the parasite life cycle.

Both slugs and snails are called gastropods.

The slug can be a heavy eater of agricultural products, sometimes consuming up to 80 percent of a bean field, said one study reported by the Organization for Tropical Studies. They also damage tomatoes, cucumbers and corn. Farmers reduce the number of slugs by removing decaying organic matter on which they feed. Homeowners can do the same.

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