Deroceras reticulatum

Deroceras (Deroceras) reticulatum (Müller, 1774)

Common Names

Gray fieldslug (English), gray garden slug, milky slug, reticulate slug

Languages: English



The commonest slug in NW Europe (Kerney & Cameron 1979) and the major pest slug in agriculture, worldwide.

Author(s): Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): Paustian, Megan


Conservation Status

In North and central European lowlands, Great Britain and Ireland; probably the most widely distributed slug. Scarce and mainly as a synanthrope in N Scandinavia.

Author(s): (F. Welter Schultes)
Rights holder(s): (F. Welter Schultes)



Not aggressive (Rollo & Wellington 1979); aggregations occur with bad moisture and temp levels (Rollo & Wellington 1981). Homes to shelter (Cook 1979).

Author(s): Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): Paustian, Megan


External:  Slug very variable, creamy or light coffee cream, rarely blackish spotted (slugs with spots may appear blackish); behind the mantle the dark spots form a reticulate pattern in the skin grooves; skin thick with large tubercles; pneumostome 2/3 back from front of mantle; pale pneumostome edge; short keel; abrupt truncation of tail tip; 3-part, pale sole; mucus colourless, on irritation milky white (calcareous granules in white mucus).

Internal:  Brown ovotestis; albumen gland light brown and liver-shaped; penis fleshy and with a silky sheen, in the shape of an irregular sac, in fully mature specimens divided into 2 parts by a deep lateral constriction; penial gland of very variable shape, usually consisting of a few branches or a single long branch (1-4 knobby processes); stimulator large, conical and narrow; retractor muscle inserted laterally on penis; vas deferens opens into penis wall facing the external body side; short, straight oviduct; narrow spermatheca; small atrium; rectal caecum large.

The slug cannot be distinguished from many other Deroceras species based only on its external appearance.  Similar to D. agreste and D. rodnae (Kerney & Cameron 1979); different from D. laeve and D. carunae: opaque skin, white mucus when irritated, bigger size, rectal caecum presence (Quick 1960).

Eggs:  3 x 2.5 mm, translucent, begin with calcareous speckles on surface.  Up to 700 eggs are produced per individual slug (Quick 1960).

Juveniles:  4 mm long, light gray and translucent at hatching (Quick 1960).

Author(s): (F. Welter Schultes); Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): (F. Welter Schultes); Paustian, Megan


Deroceras reticulatum is partly freeze-tolerant (experiences mortality at or below -4.7 C for 30+ min.) (Cook 2004).

Author(s): Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): Paustian, Megan


Up to 40-60 mm long (preserved 25-30 mm); varies in size according to the habitat.

Author(s): (F. Welter Schultes)
Rights holder(s): (F. Welter Schultes)

Ecology and Distribution


Native to: Europe, Mediterranean countries, and Atlantic Ids (Quick 1960). More rare and resticted to cultivated fields in the southeast, particularly in the Balkans, probably absent from Greece and Bulgarian mountains.

Introduced as a synanthrope to many regions: North America, Peru, South Africa, Tasmania, New Zealand, central Asia.

Type Locality:  Frideriksdal near København, Denmark.

Author(s): (F. Welter Schultes); Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): (F. Welter Schultes); Paustian, Megan


D. reticulatum are attacked by parasites including Sciomyzid glies and nematodes. Some English populations of D. reticulatum have high rates of Sciomyzid fly infection (Stevenson & Knutson 1966, in Hunter 1978). D. reticulatum are susceptible to and experienced mortality from P. hermaphrodita (Grewal et al. 2003), which enter slugs' mantle cavities, reach adulthood, and reproduce (causing swelling of the mantle); the second generation tends to kill slug (Wilson & Grewal 2006).

In defense against predators, Deroceras reticulatum is capable of tail autotomization, followed by fleeing and hiding (Solem 1974; Pakarinen 1994a).

Author(s): Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): Paustian, Megan


At present almost exclusively restricted to cultivated areas, usually in open habitats, in meadows, near roadsides, in ruins, gardens and parks, not inside forests. Shelters under stones, fallen logs, vegetation, and ground litter (does not burrow into the soil).  Can reach high abundances in cultivated land; widespread and common in invaded habitats (Chichester & Getz 1969).

Author(s): (F. Welter Schultes); Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): (F. Welter Schultes); Paustian, Megan

Life Cycle

Life cycle covers a few months, usually two generations; main reproductive phase in summer and autumn, maximum age about a year; slugs die at the first frosts. Usually only eggs hibernate, sometimes also juveniles.

In Britain, slugs mate year round; they can reach adulthood in 3 months during summer (Quick 1960). In Michigan, only (a few) adults emerged in early spring, immediately laid eggs after emergence and through the fall, and juveniles appeared in June; here, it is an annual species (Getz 1959).

Author(s): (F. Welter Schultes); Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): (F. Welter Schultes); Paustian, Megan

Trophic Strategy

Species is omnivorous, feeding mainly on fresh leaves and fruits or seedings. Consumes live plants (favored more than most other gastropods), dead plants, and wood (Chichester & Getz 1973; Jennings & Barkham 1975; Herbert 2010). 

Author(s): (F. Welter Schultes); Paustian, Megan
Rights holder(s): (F. Welter Schultes); Paustian, Megan


Risk Statement

Deroceras reticulatum is the major slug pest worldwide in agriculture (Ester & Wilson 2006), consuming seedlings and green vegetation (Quick 1960). They are known pests on oilseed rape, cabbage, brussels sprouts, ice berg lettuce, and other plants (Ester & Wilson 2006).  After several years with continuous moist weather conditions, abundance can seriously increase.

Author(s): Paustian, Megan; (F. Welter Schultes)
Rights holder(s): Paustian, Megan; (F. Welter Schultes)


  • Limax reticulatus Müller, 1774 (synonym)
  • Limax canariensis d'Orbigny, 1839 (synonym)
  • Agriolimax pallidus Schrenk, 1848 (synonym)
  • ?Agriolimax Drymonius Bourguignat (synonym)
  • Agriolimax simrothi Cockerell, 1893 (synonym)
  • ?Limax (Krynickillus) nicensis Bourguignat (in Nevill), 1880 (synonym)
  • Deroceras altenai Lupu, 1976 (synonym)
  • Limax tunicata Gould, 1841 (synonym)


Branson, BA. (1980).  The recent Gastropoda of Oklahoma, part VIII. The slug families Limacidae, Arionidae, Veronicellidae, and Philomycidae.. Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science. 60, 29-35.
Chatfield, JE. (1976).  Studies on food and feeding in some European land molluscs. Journal of Conchology. 29, 5-20.
Dirzo, R., & Harper J. L. (1982).  Experimental studies on slug-plant interactions: III. Differences in the acceptability of individual plants of Trifolium repens to slugs and snails. The Journal of Ecology . 70(1), 101-117.
Getz, LL. (1959).  Notes on the ecology of slugs: Arion circumscriptus, Deroceras reticulatum, and D. laeve. The American Midland Naturalist. 61, 485-498.
Jennings, TJ., & Barkham JP. (1975).  Food of slugs in mixed deciduous woodlands. Oikos. 26, 211-221.
Kerney, MP., & Cameron RAD. (1979).  Land Snails of Britain and North-West Europe. Hong Kong: Harper Collins Publishers.
Quick, HE. (1960).  British slugs (Pulmonata: Testacellidae, Arionidae, Limacidae). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Zoology. 6, 103-226.
Sysoev, A., & Schileyko A. (2009).  Land Snails and Slugs of Russia and Adjacent Countries. Sofia: Pensoft.
Wiktor, A. (2000).  Agriolimacidae (Gastropoda: Pulmonata - A systematic monograph. Annales Zoologici. 49(3), 347-590.
Wiktor, A. (2001).  Fauna Graeciae VIII: The slugs of Greece (Arionidae, Milacidae, Limacidae, Agriolimacidae - Gastropoda, Stylommatophora). Irakleio: Natural History Museum of Crete, University of Crete.