What’s going on?
Giant African land snails are an invasive species that previously plagued South Florida for a decade. Though eradicated in 2021, these snails, which can grow to eight inches long and five inches wide, have been reappearing. In June 2022, a Pasco County gardener reported a snail sighting – the first one since 2017.
Unlike the dark gray or brown snails found in prior years, this new round features snails with cream-colored bodies with dark shells.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) started a pesticide treatment program and placed a quarantine on a portion of the county. The quarantine prohibits the movement of this snail or lawn items, such as plants, debris, and yard waste, in or out of the quarantine area.
Why it matters.
The giant African land snail can carry rat lungworm, a parasite that causes meningitis in humans and animals. The disease can occur if people eat unwashed lettuce or produce that a carrier snail has crawled across.
These mollusks can also munch through paint and stucco on homes and other buildings.
Managing this species is difficult because of its rapid reproduction rate. A significant agricultural pest, these snails can feed on over 500 types of plants and thrive in home gardens and landscapes. Like other invasive species, this snail poses a threat to biodiversity and eradication can cost millions of dollars.
What you can do.
- Learn more about how this invasive is being managed around Florida. (1) (2)
- Wash lettuce and all other produce thoroughly before consuming.
- Report sightings by calling the FDACS hotline at 1-888-397-1517.
- Wear gloves or other protective material when handling a giant African land snail!
Info from Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and New York Times. Image from patrick vant (CC BY-NC 4.0).