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The influence of mucus production by the slug, Deroceras reticulatum, on predation by Pterostichus madidus and Nebria brevicollis (Coleoptera: Carabidae)

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jacqueline Mair, Dr Gordon Port


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Slugs are important pests in many agricultural crops and potential biological control agents are being studied as an alternative to molluscicides. Carabid beetles may be able to reduce slug populations, but the defence mucus of slugs may deter some predator attacks. Interactions between the carabids Pterostichus madidus (Fabricius) and Nebria brevicollis (Fabricius) with healthy and 'stressed' (unable to produce defence mucus) Deroceras reticulatum (Mùˆller) were investigated in laboratory conditions. Both beetle species consumed significantly more stressed slugs than controls. Defence mucus production by control slugs hampered beetle attacks. These generalist beetle species did not direct their attacks at vulnerable parts of the prey as equal numbers of contacts were made on the slug head, mantle and tail. Blowfly (Calliphora sp.) larvae are readily consumed by P. madidus and N. brevicollis. Calliphora larvae coated in slug defence mucus were less acceptable to both beetle species compared with control larvae. Results indicate that these generalist beetle species are unable to overcome the defence mucus production of healthy slugs. Slugs sub-lethally poisoned by molluscicides may be a more suitable prey item due to a reduction in defence mucus production.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mair J, Port GR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Biocontrol Science and Technology

Year: 2002

Volume: 12

Issue: 3

Pages: 325-335

ISSN (print): 0958-3157

ISSN (electronic): 1360-0478

Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd.


DOI: 10.1080/09583150220128112


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