Reducing the application rate of molluscicide pellets for the invasive Spanish slug, Arion vulgaris.
Arion vulgaris are mostly controlled using chemical molluscicide products, and the detrimental environmental effects of these molluscicides can be reduced by decreasing the number of pellets applied per unit area. The objective of this study was to compare three slug control methods during two double-replicated seven-day laboratory experiments, in which slugs could choose the number of pellets with metaldehyde (3% or 5%) or iron phosphate (1%) and different types of food: leafy plants (lettuce), root vegetables (carrot), a cereal-based diet (oatmeal), or an animal-based diet (dry cat food). Slugs were irrigated and allowed to recover. We found a reluctance of slugs to eat big amounts of pellets and, therefore, to reach a full lethal dose, which resulted in low mortality (the rate was only 2.1%), regardless of whether the poison was stronger or weaker. Herbivory of slugs was in some cases reduced by half, but no treatments resulted in slugs to stop eating. Pellets with 3% metaldehyde were significantly more acceptable than pellets with 5% metaldehyde (uneaten pellets were left). The results showed that the new application of molluscicides could be useful; the application rate should be decreased according to the slugs number and ability of slugs to eat a certain amount of molluscicide pellets.