MIAMI, Fla. – Sept. 10, 2015 – Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced that more than 159,000 giant African land snails (GALS) have been eliminated in Florida since the giant disease carrying, stucco-eating invasive mollusk was found four years ago.
In addition to consuming more than 500 varieties of plants, giant African land snails can destroy structures by consuming plaster and stucco. They also can carry a parasite that causes serious diseases in humans, such as meningitis.
“We’ve eliminated more than 159,000 of these invasive pests, but only with the continued help of the residents of South Florida can we completely rid Florida of the giant African land snail,” says Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam H. Putnam.
The number of snails collected weekly has dropped from several thousand into the single digits. In addition, the mortality rate of discovered snails is close to 100 percent. Of the 29 core areas where the snail has been found, the department has not found a live snail in 21 of the core areas in the past year.
Originally from East Africa, the GALS, Achatina fulica, is one of the largest land snails in the world, growing up to 8 inches in length. Each snail can live as long as 9 years. GALS are difficult to eradicate because they have no natural predator and they reproduce exponentially – up to 1,200 more snails per year.
To report a giant African land snail, call the Department of Agriculture’s toll-free helpline at (888) 397-1517.
To preserve a snail sample, use gloves and put the snail in a zip-top bag, seal it, and put it into a bucket or plastic container. Putnam warns Floridians not to touch the snails or release them in a different location.
© 2015 Florida Realtors®
Source: Florida Realtors Feed