Why do salted slugs melt?
on 5/10/2004 (0)
Who can deny the diabolical thrill of slug salting? Why do garden slugs melt when you pour salt on them? Here are some answers:
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1. Source: U.S. Dept. of energy: Slugs don't "melt" when salt is poured on them; they simply dry out. Slugs depend on being very moist to survive, and if they lose that moisture they die. Salt is known for being very good at removing moisture from cells, so when you combine salt and slugs, you have a slug raisin.
2. Source: Singapore Science Centre: Most biological membranes, including cell membranes are semi-permeable, permitting the transport of water but not larger molecules. Osmosis refers to the diffusion of water molecules across the cell membrane that allows the flow of water but not of solutes. An isotonic solution is one having the same osmotic pressure as the fluid phase of a cell or tissue. A hypertonic solution is one having an osmotic pressure greater than that of fluid within the cell. Osmotic relationships of a cell are as follows:
In an isotonic medium, water gain and water loss across the cell membrane are balanced and the cell neither shrinks or swells. In a hypertonic medium such as urine, there is a net loss of water from the cell. Plasmolysis refers to the withdrawal of water from a living cell due to osmosis, resulting in contraction of cytoplasm away from cell walls. If the cytoplasma of cells are totally detached from the cell walls, the cells are no longer functional. Hence plasmolysed cells die after losing too much water.
3. Testimonial from Dave's garden: "I decided to pour salt on them and watch the results. Salt on the slugs turned them immediately fluorescent green and then to goo."
WWW.smthop.com and its affiliates do not condone cruelty to slugs. In fact we consider slug melting to be a horrible crime, at least as nefarious as fire fly smearing. This column is for informational purposes only, as in how NOT to accidently melt a slug!
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