The semi-slug Parmarion cf. martensi Simroth, 1893, was first discovered on O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, in 1996 and then on the island of Hawai‘i in 2004. This species, which is probably native to Southeast Asia, is abundant in eastern Hawai‘i Island, reportedly displacing the Cuban slug, Veronicella cubensis (Pfeiffer, 1840), in some areas. A survey in July–August 2005 found P. cf. martensi primarily in the lower Puna area of Hawai‘i Island, with an isolated population in Kailua-Kona (western Hawai‘i Island). It is now established in commercial papaya plantations, and survey participants reported it as a pest of lettuce and papaya in home gardens. Survey respondents considered P. cf. martensi a pest also because of its tendency to climb on structures where it deposits its feces and because of its potential to transmit disease. Individuals of this species were found to carry large numbers of infective third-stage larvae of the nematode Angiostrongylus cantonensis (Chen, 1935), the causative agent of human angio-strongyliasis and the most common cause of human eosinophilic meningo-encephalitis. Using a newly developed polymerase chain reaction test, 77.5% of P. cf. martensi collected at survey sites were found infected with A. cantonensis, compared with 24.3% of V. cubensis sampled from the same areas. The transmission potential of this species may be higher than that for other slugs and snails in Hawai‘i because of the high prevalence of infection, worm burdens, and its greater association with human habitations, increasing the possibility of human-mollusk interactions.
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Vol. 61 • No. 4