As acreage of row crops managed with conservation tillage increases, more growers are encountering slugs, elevating their importance as crop pests. Slugs can eat virtually all crops and they inflict most of their damage during crop establishment and early growth in the spring and fall. This damage tends to be most severe under cool, wet conditions, which slow crop growth and favor slug activity. These mollusks are particularly troublesome within the Chesapeake Bay watershed where conservation tillage is strongly encouraged to minimize agricultural run-off into waterways that lead to the Bay. Slugs are challenging to control because of the limited number of management tactics that are available. We consider the species of slugs that are commonly found in mid-Atlantic field crop production and discuss their natural history, ecology, and some of the factors limiting their populations. We conclude with cultural, biological, and chemical management options, particularly for corn production, and suggest elements of a potential integrated management program for slugs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Plant Science
- Insect Science
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law