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A laboratory evaluation of the palatability of legumes to the field slug, Deroceras reticulatum Müller

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Slugs are major pests of many crops, including winter wheat, in temperate climates, yet current methods of control are often unreliable. The aim of this study is to investigate the potential for common legume species to act as an alternative source of food, or trap crop, for the most damaging agricultural pest species, the grey field slug, Deroceras reticulatum Müller, thereby reducing damage to the wheat crop. A series of three controlled-environment experiments were designed to assess this aim. Individual slugs were fed leaves of one of ten legume species together with winter wheat leaves for a 72-h period. A clear hierarchy of acceptability was shown, with red clover, lucerne, lupin and white clover showing significantly higher Acceptability Indices than the other six species tested. Red clover produced the greatest reduction in mean wheat consumption (78%) from day 1 to day 3. When species were fed individually, red clover was consumed in significantly greater quantities than any of the other treatments: 40% more than white clover and 56% more than wheat. Furthermore, when fed with red clover the amount of wheat consumed was some 50% less than when the latter was fed alone. The results indicate that legumes vary greatly in their acceptability to D reticulatum and it is essential that a legume with a high Acceptability Index is chosen, which results in the least amount of wheat consumed.

© 2003 Society of Chemical Industry
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Keywords: Deroceras reticulatum; feeding behaviour; palatability; red clover; slugs; wheat

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: * 2: Department of Life Sciences, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2EE, UK

Publication date: 2003-03-01

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