Deroceras invadens (tramp slug)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Deroceras invadens
Preferred Common Name
- tramp slug
Other Scientific Names
- Agriolimax caruanae Pollonera
- Deroceras caruanae
- Deroceras meridionale Reygrobellet
- Deroceras panormitanum Lessona and Pollonera
- Deroceras pollonerae Pollonera
International Common Names
- English: brown field slug; longneck field slug; Sicilian slug
- French: petite loche maritime
Local Common Names
- Germany: Mittelmeerackerschnecke; Mittelmeerackerschnecke
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
D. invadens is a small, agile slug that is native to the Mediterranean and has been recorded from at least 46 countries worldwide. Until 2011, this species was known as D. panormitanum but molecular work revealed that it comprised two distinct species. This species is similar in appearance to D. laeve and as a result, the exact distribution and impact of this species is unknown. This is a particular problem in countries such as the USA and Australia and probably also in South America. D. invadens is regarded as a significant pest of agricultural crops in New Zealand (Barker, 1999) but is highly likely to be damaging in many other countries as well. References to slug damage in agricultural crops by D. laeve are very likely to refer to D. invadens. In addition to this, D. invadens is an aggressive slug which may compete with native slugs, decreasing biodiversity.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Mollusca
- Class: Gastropoda
- Subclass: Pulmonata
- Order: Stylommatophora
- Suborder: Sigmurethra
- Unknown: Limacoidea
- Family: Limacidae
- Genus: Deroceras
- Species: Deroceras invadens
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
D. invadens, formerly referred to in the scientific literature as D. panormitanum Lessona & Pollonera, 1882, and before that as D. caruanae Pollonera, 1891 or Agriolimax caruanae Pollonera, 1891, has had a long and confusing history of misidentification and misapplication of names.
Not until the age of DNA bar-coding (in tandem with extensive behavioural studies) has it been possible to untangle a skein of confused taxa with an extensive list of names which have been applied or mis-applied to this taxon (Reise et al., 2011). The origins of D. invadens are currently unknown but are likely to be somewhere in or around Italy. The name formerly applied to what will be called here the tramp slug, i.e. D. panormitanum, relates to a different species native to Sicily and Malta (Reise et al., 2011). It appears that two other names in circulation, D. pollonerae Simroth, 1889 and D. caruanae are synonyms of D. panormitanum.
Reise et al. (2011) performed breeding experiments and DNA analysis on material from Sicily, Malta, Sardinia and England. These confirmed that two closely similar taxa exist, D. invadens the tramp slug with a worldwide distribution and D. panormitanum (=pollonerae = caruanae) native to Sicily and Malta and now found also at single sites in Wales and Ireland (Rowson et al., 2016).
DescriptionTop of page
D. invadens is a small, agile, slug species with a reputation for pugnacity towards other slugs. Size range is 25-35 mm. The body is cylindrical, narrowing to a short but strongly truncate keel at the tail. The mantle is moderately large but less so proportionately than in D. laeve, so that the tail part of the body is clearly longer than the mantle. In living specimens the mantle is transversely wrinkled in front as in D. laeve. The body colour is variable. In Mediterranean countries a pinkish flesh-coloured ground colour is common with a translucent cuticle and few if any darker spots. This form can also occur in northern Europe. In north-west Europe two forms predominate, these are slightly or considerably darker colour forms. The most common is mid gray and translucent with lighter mantle, through the cuticle of which the shell and pale internal organs can be seen even in the field. There is a marbling of tiny darker spots, but these are difficult to see with the naked eye. In hilly or exposed areas a darker form occurs, with mid to dark grey ground colour and contrasting pale mantle on which darker spotting is particularly obvious. The respiratory pore is white-rimmed, more clearly marked in darkly pigmented specimens. The sole in most specimens is translucent grey and paler than upper body pigments. Pedal and body mucus is colourless. Internally D. invadens has a rounded, compact penis with two fairly symmetrical, slightly elongate and inturned, ‘side pockets’ comprising the penial caecum and penial lobe (see Reise et al., 2011).
DistributionTop of page
D. invadens is native to Italy and has been introduced widely into a number of countries around the world; it is now present in the continents of Africa, North America, South America, Central America, Europe and Oceania. The distribution of this species is believed to be under reported. This is in part due to lack of interest and the similarity with D. laeve (Forsyth, 2014).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 17 Dec 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Egypt||Present||Introduced||Invasive||First reported: 2005-2007|
|Saint Helena||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Tristan da Cunha||Present||Introduced||1982||Invasive|
|Slovakia||Present||Introduced||2003||Invasive||Present in greenhouses|
|-Canary Islands||Present||Introduced||1947||Invasive||Original citation: Regteren Altena (1966)|
|Canada||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-British Columbia||Present||Introduced||1974||Invasive||Present in greenhouses|
|-Quebec||Present||Introduced||1966||Invasive||Present in greenhouses|
|United States||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Chile||Present||Introduced||1962||Invasive||Juan Fernandez Islands|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
D. invadens (as Agriolimax caruanae) was first reported outside its native range (which is probably in Italy), in England around 1930. It was then recorded in Australia in 1936. Post-World War II, it appears to have spread rapidly into north-west Europe and Iberia. In North America it was found in California by 1940, Canada by 1966, South America by 1962, and South Africa by 1963. Country specific dates can be found in the Introductions table. Despite rapid colonization, it has not yet been reported from the Russian Federation, Central Asia, or China. In most places from which this species is recorded, it has retained a close association with man and there is little indication of full naturalization in some of these countries (Hutchinson et al., 2014).
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Argentina||2004||Gutiérrez Gregoric et al. (2013)||Accidental|
|Australia||1936||Yes||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Belgium||1968||Yes||Fauna Europea (2015)||Accidental|
|British Columbia||1974||Reise et al. (2006)||Accidental|
|California||1940||Reise et al. (2006)||Accidental|
|Canary Islands||1947||Regteren Altena (1966)||Accidental|
|Chile||1962||Araya (2015); Letelier et al. (1969)||Accidental|
|Colorado||2004||Reise et al. (2006)||Accidental|
|Costa Rica||2006||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Czech Republic||1996||Fauna Europea (2015)||Accidental|
|Denmark||1937||Yes||Fauna Europea (2015)||Accidental|
|Ecuador||2012||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Egypt||2005-2007||Obuid-Allah et al. (2008)||Accidental|
|Faroe Islands||1970||Fauna Europea (2015)||Accidental|
|Finland||2014||Koivunen et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|France||1945||Yes||Fauna Europea (2015)||Accidental|
|Germany||1978||Fauna Europea (2015)||Accidental|
|Greece||2011||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Ireland||1958||Yes||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Israel||2013||Mienis et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Kenya||2012||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Mexico||1974||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Montenegro||2012||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Netherlands||1969||Yes||Fauna Europea (2015)||Accidental|
|New Zealand||1974||Reise et al. (2006)||Accidental|
|Norway||1983||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Oregon||2001||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Panama||2007||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Peru||2012||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Poland||2001||Fauna Europea (2015)||Accidental|
|Portugal||1977||Fauna Europea (2015)||Accidental|
|Quebec||1966||Reise et al. (2006)||Accidental|
|San Marino||2013||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Slovakia||2003||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|South Africa||1963||Yes||Herbert (2010)||Accidental|
|Spain||1974||Yes||Dvorák et al. (2003)||Accidental|
|Tristan Da Cunha||1982||Reise et al. (2006)||Accidental|
|UK||1930||Yes||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
|Utah||2006||Reise et al. (2011)||Accidental|
|Washington||2001||Hutchinson et al. (2014)||Accidental|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
As world trade continues to grow, it is increasingly likely that D. invadens may appear in major conurbations around the world. Its affinity for environments disturbed by anthropogenic activitys, particularly gardens and commercial horticultural enterprises, its tolerance of a wide range of environmental temperatures and ability to adhere to clothing, animals and vehicles, makes it readily transportable and adaptable to new environments.
HabitatTop of page
D. invadens adapts well to disturbance and is a typical ‘garden’ species in many parts of its range. After introduction to new areas it is mostly associated with urban and roadside habitats, gardens and farm buildings (Rowson et al., 2014a). In Britain and Ireland, while expanding its range in the 1970s, it became very common at fly-tipping sites where garden rubbish was deposited.
Once established it can invade semi-natural woodland, rough pasture, wetland margins and agricultural fields in the general countryside especially where ground conditions are moist. In the warmer climate of the west Mediterranean it is restricted mainly in irrigated hotel gardens and in and around garden centres and has not been observed in dry forests or garigue, especially in the summer months.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production)||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Urban / peri-urban areas||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Scrub / shrublands||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
D. invadens is a generalist slug and has been recorded causing agricultural damage to crops. Examples of these species include; Asparagus officinalis, Avena sativa, Brassica napus, B. oleracea, B. rapa, Cucurbita maxima, C. pepo, Daucus carota, Franaria vesca, Hordeum vulgare, Lactuca sativa, Solanum tuberosum, Triticum aestivum and T. durum.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Asparagus officinalis (asparagus)||Liliaceae||Main|
|Avena sativa (oats)||Poaceae||Main|
|Brassica oleracea (cabbages, cauliflowers)||Brassicaceae||Main|
|Brassica rapa (field mustard)||Brassicaceae||Main|
|Cucurbita maxima (giant pumpkin)||Cucurbitaceae||Main|
|Cucurbita pepo (marrow)||Cucurbitaceae||Main|
|Daucus carota (carrot)||Apiaceae||Main|
|Fragaria vesca (wild strawberry)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Hordeum vulgare (barley)||Poaceae||Main|
|Lactuca sativa (lettuce)||Asteraceae||Main|
|Solanum tuberosum (potato)||Solanaceae||Main|
|Triticum aestivum (wheat)||Poaceae||Main|
Growth StagesTop of page
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Fruit / external feeding|
|Growing point / external feeding|
|Inflorescence / external feeding|
|Leaves / external feeding|
|Leaves / frass visible|
|Leaves / shredding|
|Seeds / external feeding|
|Stems / external feeding|
|Vegetative organs / external feeding|
|Whole plant / external feeding|
|Whole plant / frass visible|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
D. invadens is an annual species which is variable in its seasonality. It can self-fertilise but most reproduction occurs by outcrossing (Foltz et al., 1984). The eggs are small and are laid in clutches of up to 50 (Quick, 1960). The lifecycle of this species is short and up to three generations may exist per year (AnimalBase, 2015).
Physiology and Phenology
D. invadens is an agile slug and more irritable and fast moving than D. laeve. It has been observed to tail-flick and bite other slug species (Rowson et al., 2014a). It has no particular affinity for water, although it requires damp or well watered habitats.
The maximum life span of D. invadens is about one year.
D. invadens can breed and is active at all times of year, except during drought or under freezing conditions.
Barker (1999) has observed D. invadens as a pest in gardens in New Zealand, but there are remarkably few observations on feeding habits or preferences elsewhere. In Ireland young specimens have frequently been observed doing damage between lettuce leaves (Lactuca sativa) offered for sale, so it is probably a serious pest in horticulture. No verifiable reports of damage to cereal or root crops has been reported although it is likely to cause damage to winter cereals.
D. invadens has a reasonably wide temperature tolerance, but this is more biased towards environmental heat than cold. For example this species has been recorded widely in the tropics. The watery mucus it secretes requires readily available water, so it is intolerant of or inactive in, truly arid conditions.
ClimateTop of page
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Ds - Continental climate with dry summer||Tolerated||Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)|
|ET - Tundra climate||Tolerated||Tundra climate (Average temp. of warmest month < 10°C and > 0°C)|
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Anas platyrhynchos||Predator||Adults; Nematodes|Juveniles||not specific|
|Cychrus caraboides||Predator||Eggs; Nematodes|Juveniles||not specific|
|Erinaceus europaeus||Predator||Adults||not specific|
|Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita||Parasite||Adults||not specific||Y|
|Silpha atrata||Predator||Adults; Nematodes|Juveniles||not specific|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
There is little information on the natural enemies of D. invadens however, they likely include the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) slow worms, ground beetles, tachinid flies, toads and birds such as the runner duck, Anas platyrhynchos. In Europe and North America beetles of the genus Silpha (S. atrata in Europe) and Cychrus (C. caraboides in Europe) have evolved mouthparts and behaviour to specifically target pulmonate molluscs, including slugs. Some Diptera (Phoridae) are specific parasites of agriolimacid slugs (Robinson and Foote, 1968).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
D. invadens is an active and fast moving species which will naturally move locally into new areas.
It is possible that D. invadens can adhere to clothing, tyres, vehicles etc. and be transported into new locations this way. In addition this species is likely to be accidentally introduced through the transportation of fresh produce, plants for the garden trade or in rubbish from gardens.
Pathway CausesTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
References to slug damage of agricultural crops by D. laeve are very likely to refer widely to D. invadens. The impact on crops produced in temperate climates can be high, especially where grass is part of the cycle, or where horticulture is practiced. Winter cereals in temperate climates may be particularly at risk.
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Biodiversity
D. invadens can be aggressive, wounding other slugs when in high-density populations; they may defend themselves by tail-wagging and slapping and by quickly fleeing (Rollo and Wellington, 1979; Rowson et al., 2014a). This, therefore, decreases the biodiversity of native slugs.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Is a habitat generalist
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Tolerant of shade
- Capable of securing and ingesting a wide range of food
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Reproduces asexually
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Interaction with other invasive species
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult to identify/detect in the field
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
D. invadens may be used in laboratories as a research model.
Uses ListTop of page
- Laboratory use
- Research model
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
D. invadens and the Sicilian species D. panormitanum closely resemble each other in external characters. Careful comparison of populations of D. panormitanum from Cardiff, UK and Kilmacanogue south of Dublin, Ireland with D. invadens has allowed the following observations.
In size, general habitus and colouration, there is overlap between the two species. Medium to dark pigmented D. panormitanum, however, differ from similarly dark D.invadens in pigmentation of the mantle which seems always to be more contrastingly paler in D.invadens with white internal organs showing through, than it is in D.panormitanum. The dark colouration on the upper surface of D. panormitanum also frequently has a significant violaceous sheen which D.invadens does not possess. Paler forms of both species are less easily separated. Internally D. panormitanum has a similar layout of the penis as D. invadens, but the ‘side pockets’ are asymmetric and while the penial lobe is a more or less rounded lobe, the penial caecum is elongate and bent, tapering towards the tip (Reise et al., 2011). The pockets are almost symmetrical in D. invadens i.e. slightly elongate but of even width along their length (Wiktor, 2000).
D. invadens is also similar in appearance to D. laeve. D. laeve differs from both of the above in its smaller size, even, usually chestnut colour, lack of pale rim on the respiratory orifice, longer mantle and sole the same colour as the upper surface. D. laeve often has the penis missing or partly missing (Foltz et al., 1984). Where it is fully formed the shape is elongate and somewhat spirally twisted with no side pockets.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Phasmarhabditis hermaphroditais a nematode parasite of slugs which, though most effective in controllingD. reticulatumand may also killD. invadens (Speiser et al., 2001). However, this form of control is uneconomic for field crops at present.
Prystuppa et al. (1987) found that 2% methiocarb was the most effective treatment with copper failing to provide significant mortalities against Deroceras slugs.
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
It is important to accurately identify which Deroceras species are associated with crop damage across the globe, to promote development and more effective targeting of control measures. Present perception is that most damage is attributable to D. reticulatum, followed by D. laeve, with D. invadens having a minor role. In fact, if identification issues were resolved, D. invadens is potentially the second most important pest of these three, with D. laeve in third position. These differ in their means of reproduction, seasonality and climatic constraints and so may require different control strategies.
More work is also required on the specific responses of D. invadens in relation to control.
ReferencesTop of page
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26/11/15 Original text by:
Roy Anderson, Consultant, Northern Ireland
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