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New Zealand Plant Protection 65 (2012): 161-165

The potential of a New Zealand strain of Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita for biological control of slugs

M.J. Wilson, G. Burch, M. Tourna, L.T. Aalders and G.M. Barker

ABSTRACT

In New Zealand, the European invasive slug Deroceras reticulatum is a pest in home gardens, horticulture, pastoral and arable agriculture. At present there are no biological control options available in New Zealand, unlike Europe, where the nematode parasite Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita is sold in several countries under the trade name Nemaslug. This paper describes the finding of a nematode parasitising D. reticulatum in New Zealand that was identified by morphological and molecular (18S rDNA sequencing) methods as P. hermaphrodita. The nematode was reared on slug cadavers and shown to infect and kill field-collected D. reticulatum. In mesocosm experiments with clover, the New Zealand P. hermaphrodita applied at the recommended commercial rate substantially increased plant density even under high slug pressure.

Keywords: slugs, nematodes, biological control, clover.

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