Steven L. Abrams
Priscilla A. Taylor
"An equal opportunity
Be on the Lookout for Giant African Land Snails
Giant African land snails were discovered last fall in Miami-Dade County. Back in 1966, a population of three African land snails was released into a home garden. Within 7 years, the original three had turned into 18,000 with scores of eggs. It took the state of Florida 10 years and $1 million to eradicate that population.
The giant African land snail can attain a length of nearly 8 inches and a diameter of 5 inches. It is conical in shape, tapering to a distinct point at one end, but rounded at the other. Although varied in appearance, this snail typically is light brown with dark brown stripes.
These snails can damage ornamental plants by feeding on them at night. They can also spread diseases to humans. The snail sometimes serves as an intermediate host for rat lungworm, which can cause meningoencephalitis in humans. It also carries a gram-negative bacterium, Aeromonas hydrophila, causing several disease symptoms in people, especially those with compromised immune systems.
The USDA and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are currently carrying out an eradication program in Miami-Dade County. If you believe you have this pest in your landscape, an inspector will come out to identify and remove collected snails. For information, please call the hot line at 888-397-1517.
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