Slugs and snails, common backyard pests, are also important agricultural pests in many areas. The best biocontrol agent available for slug control is the nematode Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita. In field trials in Switzerland, the nematode was just as effective as baits containing metaldehyde, a conventional chemical molluscicide. European gardeners can order this nematode from MicroBio, a company in the UK. However, this nematode is not currently available in North America. MicroBio is investigating the possibility of obtaining the necessary permits to send them here, but this is a difficult and time-consuming process, so don't expect to be ordering their product in the U.S. soon. Another problem limiting distribution is the short refrigerated shelf-life of this nematode: 3-4 weeks compared with several months for Steinernema, a commercially available insect-parasitic nematode. Further research may solve this problem, but once again it will take time.
In the meantime, scientists at U.S. universities have isolated several slug nematodes that might be utilized for biological control. Although the nematodes have not been identified yet-they may be the same as the European Phasmarhabditis, or they might be a different, but equally effective species-their commercial production here could occur more quickly than the availability o the MicroBio product.
IPM Practitioner 19(7): 18, July 1997 and 19(10): 19, October 1997.
Return to Commodity Menu Vol. V No. 2
Return to Contents Menu Vol. V No. 1
Go To Index