Populations of two molluscs, the land snail Arianta arbustorum and the Iberian slug Arion lusitanicus, have increased substantially in many places in the northern Fennoscandia in recent years. This has resulted in considerable aesthetic and economic damage to plants in home gardens and commercial nurseries. Birch tar oil (BTO), is a new biological plant protection product, and was tested against these molluscs. In this study we examined whether 2 types of BTO, used either alone, mixed together, or mixed with Vaseline®, could be applied as 1) a biological plant protection product for the control of land snails by direct topical spray application, 2) as a repellent against snails when painted on a Perspex® fence, and 3) as a repellent against slugs when smeared on pots containing Brassica pekinensis seedlings. Both the fences and the pots with seedlings were placed in each field with a high population of the target organism. When applied as a spray on snails, BTO did not act as a toxic pesticide but rendered the snails inactive for a period of several months. The BTO barriers were effective in repelling both snails and slugs. However, the repellent effect of BTO alone against the molluscs was short-term. Repeated treatments were required to keep the slugs away from the plants and we found that the interval between treatments should not exceed two weeks. A collar fastened around the rim of the pots, combined with the BTO treatment, did not give any additional benefit in hindering slugs from invading the plants. Most noticeably, the BTO+Vaseline® mixture prevented the land snails from passing over the treated fences for up to several months. The results of these experiments provide evidence that BTO, especially when mixed with Vaseline®, serves as an excellent long-term repellent against molluscs.;
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