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Research Project: Biological Control and Integrated Management of Invasive Arthropod Pests from Europe, Asia, and Africa

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Title: Can Estivation Preferences Be Used to Develop Novel Management Tools against Invasive Mediterranean Snails?

Author
item HANACHE, PRISCILLIA - Université Jean-Monnet
item THOMANN, THIERRY - Csiro European Laboratory
item CARON, VALERIE - Csiro European Laboratory
item DESURMONT, GAYLORD - European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL)

Submitted to: Insects
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/11/2021
Publication Date: 12/14/2021
Citation: Hanache, P., Thomann, T., Caron, V., Desurmont, G. 2021. Can Estivation Preferences Be Used to Develop Novel Management Tools against Invasive Mediterranean Snails?. Insects. 12, 1118. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12121118.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12121118

Interpretive Summary: Snails that do live in hot and dry climates climb on vertical supports to spend the summer months in a resting state (aestivation). This behavior could be exploited for pest management in areas where these snails are invasive: by placing attractive supports along cultivated fields, snails could theoretically be mass trapped at the beginning of the aestivation period. In this study, we investigated the preferences of 4 snail species for different types of supports in the laboratory and in the field. Results showed that snails have a strong preference for thicker and taller supports both in the laboratory and in the field, and that mucus traces of other snails did not attract nor deter them from supports. This results are a first important step toward a novel pest management strategy.

Technical Abstract: Terrestrial snails that live in hot and dry climates have developed strategies to cope with high summer temperatures. Several species aestivate during the warmest months of the years by resting on vertical supports, typically in groups. Understanding how snails choose their aestivation sites and aggregate may lead to the development of new management tools in areas where these snails are invasive. Here we investigated the preferences of four snail species for vertical supports varying in thickness and height under laboratory and field conditions, and tested whether the presence of conspecifics or snails of another species affected these preferences. Results showed that snails strongly preferred thicker supports in dual laboratory choice-tests, and one species (Theba pisana) showed consistent preference for taller supports as well. These results were confirmed in the field, where more snails were found on thicker and taller supports 24h after being placed in test quadrats. The percentage of snails found in groups on a support was strongly positively density-dependent. Presence of conspecifics or their mucus did not affect the choice of the snails, nor did the presence of snails of another species or their mucus. Taken together, these results could lead to the development of attractive supports that could be used to mass-capture snails in the field.