Journal of Pest Science

, Volume 90, Issue 3, pp 825–838 | Cite as

Developing ecologically based pest management programs for terrestrial molluscs in field and forage crops

  • Marion Le Gall
  • John F. Tooker


Terrestrial molluscs are some of the most important herbivores in temperate habitats. They tend to be generalists and can be serious pests in agricultural fields, particularly no-till fields used for field and forage crops; however, farmers have access to few commercially available solutions, and the existing ones present many disadvantages (e.g. reliability, cost, environmental concerns). In this paper, we review these current management options with a focus on agronomic crops, as well as the biotic factors that influence mollusc feeding, such as natural enemies, plant nutritional content, and chemical defences. These biotic factors all have important direct consequences on mollusc fitness and can be manipulated in agricultural settings. We then review evidence from the latest research in the field of nutritional ecology to propose the use of the Geometric Framework, a well-established nutritional approach, to measure nutrient regulation and performance of terrestrial molluscs and develop ecologically based management programs that also relies on susceptibility to natural enemies. To illustrate our point, we detail a specific strategy being used by farmers in the Mid-Atlantic US to manage slug populations; in this system, farmers are using cover crops terminated after the cash crop is planted (also called “planting green”) and this approach appears to harness slug nutritional preferences and natural enemies to manage slug populations.


Cover crops Herbivory Geometric framework Management Slugs Terrestrial molluscs 



We thank members of the Tooker lab, particularly Maggie Douglas, for valuable comments on a draft of this manuscript. We also would like to thank the four anonymous reviewers who helped us improve the quality of this manuscript. Dr. Le Gall and the planting green research featured here were supported by a Regional Agricultural Integrated Pest Management Grant (83558301) to J. F. Tooker from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Some of our work studying the value of cover crops for helping control slugs populations was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Northeast IPM Center (grant # 2013-41530-21473). Thanks also to members of the Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance for inspiring our ongoing work with slugs.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

M. Le Gall and J. F. Tooker declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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