Terrestrial mollusks, friend and foe take note, Dr. Rory McDonnell is joining OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences faculty this summer. As the new slug and snail expert, McDonnell will work with local farmers to battle invasive invertebrate malfeasances using more environmentally friendly methods.
One such example is Deroceras reticulatum, or the gray field slug. This European invader is a leading culprit in crop damage. Literally competing with us for food, poison bait is the usual method employed to control the slugs, but it’s expensive to use across a wide area. Part of McDonnell’s research that could lead to some non-poisonous solutions involves looking into attractants, or substances that can lure and trap the slugs.
McDonnell plans to continue his research on greener control methods, such as using plant-based essential oils. Another exciting avenue involves the use of biocontrol methods such as the application of parasitoid flies and soil-dwelling nematodes.
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that Oregon has no shortage of slugs. Those interested in learning more should check out the College of Agricultural Sciences Slug Portal at http://agsci.oregonstate.edu/
By Matthew Hunt