Predation by beetles (Carabidae, Staphylinidae) on eggs and juveniles of the Iberian slug Arion lusitanicus in the laboratory
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Arion lusitanicus has become a major pest species in western Norway in the last few years. This species originates from southern Europe but has been spread by humans over large parts of central and northern Europe during recent decades. Slugs have traditionally been controlled by the use of molluscicides; but, as these may have serious ecological side effects, biological control of slugs is highly desirable. Potential biological control agents include nematodes, gastropods and arthropods. In laboratory experiments, we tested whether five common predator beetles would feed on eggs and juveniles of A. lusitanicus. The species Carabus nemoralis, Nebria brevicollis, Pterostichus melanarius and Pterostichus niger (Carabidae) as well as Staphylinus erythropterus (Staphylinidae) were tested, of which only P. melanarius has been tested on A. lusitanicus previously. Nebria brevicollis did not feed on slug eggs or newly hatched slugs, but the remaining four species all killed and ate a large proportion of the eggs and hatchlings offered. Both P. melanarius and P. niger also destroyed A. lusitanicus eggs and hatchlings under conditions emulating those in the field. Prey size choice experiments were conducted by feeding C. nemoralis, P. niger and S. erythropterus on different sizes of A. lusitanicus. Carabus nemoralis was also given a choice between two slug species, A. lusitanicus and Deroceras reticulatum. A significant preference for slugs smaller than one gram was evident for C. nemoralis, while the other beetles struggled much more to overcome the mucus of juvenile slugs. No significant preference was found between A. lusitanicus and D. reticulatum as prey for C. nemoralis. We also discuss the feasibility of biological control of A. lusitanicus using beetle predators.