Infection behavior of the rhabditid nematode Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita to the grey garden slug Deroceras reticulatum was studied. The dauer (enduring or nonaging) juveniles of P. hermaphrodita invade D. reticulatum within 8–16 hr following external exposure, with the posterior mantle region containing the shell cavity serving as the main portal of entry. The dauer juveniles can recover, multiply, and produce new dauer juveniles in the slug and slug feces homogenates, but not in the soil extract. These results demonstrate that P. hermaphrodita is a facultative parasite of the slug and can complete its life cycle under nonparasitic conditions associated with the host. Although the juvenile and adult nematodes can kill the slug if injected into the shell cavity of the host, only the dauer juvenile can serve as an infective stage in the natural environment.
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