Eradication teams plot 28th core area, first in Broward County

Division of Plant Industry

Division of Plant Industry

Invasive and destructive Giant African Land Snails were located for the first time in Broward County Tuesday, September 9. Here is a link to the FDACS news release.

This new Core Area is the 28th to be established in the state of Florida and the first outside of Miami-Dade County.

Click here to see a map to the core areas.

Wherever you live, watch for and report suspect snails by calling the FDACS Helpline, 1-888-397-1517.

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Division of Plant Industry

Division of Plant Industry

After three years, Commissioner Adam H. Putnam says that, with the public’s help, Florida is winning the war against the giant African land snail, despite concerns over find outside of Miami-Dade County

An unprecedented and continuing effort by state and federal agricultural officials has resulted in a steady decline in the numbers of giant African land snails (GALS) in Florida since the invasive snails were detected in Miami-Dade County neighborhoods in September 2011. Teams from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have collected thousands of the mollusks – more than 141,000 to date.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam led a media tour on September 9, marking the beginning of the fourth year of the eradication effort. He said teams had been finding fewer snails in the 26 established core areas, and because they are using a stronger molluscicide, most of the ones they had found were dead.

Why Florida residents must remain vigilant

AdamSnailLlabMediaTour

Commissioner Putnam and Dr. Mary Yong Cong show live GALS specimens to reporters during Miami media tour.

In early September, Core Number 27 was established when inspectors responded to a citizen’s call to the Helpline and found about 2,000 snails. Then, on September 9, a worker at a property in Davie, Broward County alerted the homeowner to a possible GALS infestation. The worker knew of the GALS because of program outreach. After the homeowner called the FDACS Helpline, 1-888-397-1517, a response team, which included a detector dog, confirmed the specimens were indeed GALS. It was the first detection of the invasive snails in Florida outside of Miami-Dade County.

“We are very concerned about locating Giant African Land Snails outside of the core areas of Miami-Dade County. This find underscores the importance of the role of South Florida residents to help us successfully eradicate these snails,” said Commissioner Putnam. “We also appreciate the quick action of the individual who called in the report once he realized the major threat these snails are to agriculture, the environment and human and animal health.”

A threat to health, crops, landscapes and property

The giant African land snail can grow to be up to eight inches long.

The giant African land snail can grow to be up to eight inches long.

Giant African land snails can grow to be eight inches long and pose a serious threat to landscapes, crops, buildings and human and animal health. They attack more than 500 plant species and damage structures by consuming stucco to obtain the calcium they need to build their shells.

Scientists from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry have confirmed some of the captured snails carry the rat lungworm parasite, which can cause a form of meningitis in humans and animals. Fortunately, no meningitis cases in Miami have been traced to the snail so far.

When dealing with suspected GALS, be safe — Follow these rules

No one should handle any snail or slug without gloves. Everyone should remember to wash hands and fresh produce. A good general rule is to avoid eating raw or undercooked snails, frogs or shrimp/prawns. Report all GALS suspects to the Helpline, 1-888-397-1517. Never move suspect GALS off-property, handle or consume them and don’t move plant material from properties in core areas where the snail has been found.

Public support is crucial

Officials attribute the success of the program to date to residents’ continued vigilance and cooperation with the inspectors. Homeowners continue to call the Helpline when they see suspected giant African land snails and have demonstrated further cooperation by allowing inspectors to access their properties for continued survey and control efforts.

“Look for Them! Report Them!” 

The public outreach campaign will continue to spread the word to Miami-Dade and Broward county residents about the snail, using billboards, bus benches, radio, television and social media. Members of the team are also reaching out to the public through personal contact, presentations to community organizations and other events.

For more information about the program, go to http://www.freshfromflorida.com/GALS

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Division of Plant Industry

Division of Plant Industry

Giant African land snails (GALS) were found in Miami-Dade County in September 2011. Officials report a significant decline in the snail population shows the ongoing eradication program is succeeding. On September 9, 2014, however, the snail was found in Davie, Broward County. It was the first find on a property in Florida outside of Miami-Dade County. Surveys continue statewide. The snails can grow to be eight inches long and attack more than 500 plant species. They consume stucco to obtain calcium to build their shells and can damage buildings. They are also known to carry a parasite that can spread a form of meningitis to which humans and animals are susceptible. Below are key numbers related to the snail eradication program.

9/8/11: Date the giant African land snail was discovered in Miami

9/9/14: Date snail was first discovered in Brevard County, first Florida site outside of Miami-Dade County

500: Number of agricultural crops known to be consumed by the snail

8” x 4”: Maximum size attained by individuals of the species

9: Maximum years in the life span of individuals

1,200: Number of eggs an adult can lay in one year

141,000+: Number of GALS found between September 2011 and

September 2014

28: Number of core areas where the snail has been found in South Florida

651+: Number of properties on which snails have been found

59,300+: Number of properties within a one-half-mile arc of positive properties

9 +: Number of years it took to eradicate the snail after it was found in Florida in 1966

17,000: Total number of snails collected in the 1966-1975 eradication program

$1 million: Cost of that eradication (in 1960s dollars)

1: Number of successful GALS eradication programs on record

2012: Year in which scientists confirmed the rat lungworm present in snails captured in Miami

92: Percentage of cases identified due to calls from the public to the Helpline

1-888-397-1517: Number of the Division of Plant Industry toll-free Helpline

DPI Diary

September 12, 2014

Division of Plant Industry

Division of Plant Industry

A compendium of the week’s social media activities at FDACS-DPI

Giant African land snails grab attention in South Florida

Giant African Land Snails and our team’s efforts to eradicate them from Miami-Dade County were front and center in the news and on social media this week. On Tuesday, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam led a media briefing and tour of the FDACS GALS headquarters, discussing the progress of the eradication efforts.

AHPCollectsSnails9Sep14

Commissioner Putnam collects giant African land snails in newest core area in Miami-Dade County.

Later that day, a worker at a property in Davie, Broward County alerted the homeowner of a possible GALS infestation. The worker knew of the GALS because of DPI outreach. The homeowner called our Helpline, 1-888-397-1517 and our response team, which included a detector dog, then confirmed the specimens were indeed GALS. It was the first time the invasive snails have been found outside of Miami-Dade County. Read the department’s press release here.
If you’re interested in viewing a mini-history of the GALS eradication program, Miami CBS-4 has posted stories they’ve done on giant African land snail since it was discovered in Miami in 2011.

FDACS K-9 team intercepts Olive Fruit Fly

Audi&GreggOlive trees, once a rarity in Florida, are now being found more frequently in the landscape. These days more Florida producers are thinking about growing olives as a cash crop. So it was significant when FDACS detector dog Audi and his handler, Gregg Farina, last week found live larvae of the olive fruit fly in a shipment from California, bound for an Orlando florist. The fly, Diptera Trephritidae Bactrocera oleae (Gmelin), is the most damaging pest of olives in California and other parts of the world. Read more about the detection and seizure here.

Why do mosquitoes like to bite me more than my friends?

Apparently Time magazine readers have been asking that question, so Time took it to medical entomologist Dr. Jonathan Day at the University of Florida. Dr. Day’s answer: Some folks have more of certain chemicals that the mosquitoes find attractive in their skin, and apparently type O blood attracts them more than others. Read the article here.

Checking kids’ diets at school? We have an app for that!

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam reports the department has launched a tool that will help you learn about the healthy options available in school cafeterias. Nutrislice is an interactive, online platform where you can browse school menus, view nutritional information and identify allergens. You or your child can even rate the menu items. That provides valuable information to help schools develop future menus. Download the app on your iPhone or smart phone by searching “school lunch.” Help your child perform well in school by making the right choices in the cafeteria this school year.

Will kids compete to eat their fruits and veggies?

And while we’re thinking about kids and nutrition, a post by USDA says healthy competition is just the ticket to make students more aware of their eating habits and encourages them to set goals for healthy eating. This detailed plan involves the classroom, cafeteria, community, media and caretakers in encouraging kids to make videos of their favorite foods.

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Olive branches with larvae-infested fruit detected at Orlando shipping facility and destroyed 

Audi&GreggState Agriculture Detector Dog Audi and his handler, Gregg Farina, were inspecting packages at the FedEx express facility in Orlando last week when Audi alerted to a package addressed to an Orlando florist. Closer inspection revealed olive branches from California with fruits that, when cut, showed evidence of larval feeding and live larvae.

The larvae were identified as Diptera Trephritidae Bactrocera oleae (Gmelin), the olive fruit fly, the most damaging pest of olives in southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and California.

The 50 branches in the shipment that originated in central California were destroyed and FDACS inspectors will follow up with the florist t0 whom the shipment was addressed.

“Until a few years ago, olive plants were not a significant issue in Florida,” said Serena Stornaiuolo, Ph.D, a central Florida supervisor working with the detector dog program. “However, olive production is being explored as an alternative crop for fruit and vegetable producers in Florida”

OliveFruitFlyLarva

Olive fruit fly larva. (photo courtesy UF/IFAS)

Olive trees are also present at at some amusement parks in the Orlando area and are commercially grown  in Georgia, Stornaiuolo said.

Farina and the canine Audi are part of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ detector dog program. Teams including an officer, handler and canine rotate through home delivery and express facilities in Orlando, Sanford, Tampa and Miami. Detector dogs also assist at

Olive fruit fly. (Photo courttest UF/IFAS)

Olive fruit fly. (Photo courttest UF/IFAS)

agricultural interdiction stations on Florida’s northern border and in the giant African land snail eradication program in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The detector dog teams are funded by the USDA through the federal farm bill.

The Florida Cooperative Fruit Fly Trapping Program also serves as an early warning system for infestations. It is a cooperative effort between the USDA and FDACS. There are 55,000 fruit fly traps placed strategically in high-risk areas of the state that are routinely monitored by personnel from the FDACS Division of Plant Industry.

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Division of Plant Industry

Division of Plant Industry

Giant African land snails (GALS) were found in Miami-Dade County neighborhoods in September 2011. As eradication efforts continue, officials say a significant decline in the snail population shows the program is succeeding. Surveys continue statewide, but the snail has not been found in any other county in Florida. The snails can grow to be eight inches long and attack more than 500 plant species. The snail can also damage structures by consuming stucco to obtain calcium to build its shell and are known to carry a strain of meningitis to which humans and animals are susceptible. Below are key numbers related to the snail eradication program.

9/8/11: Date the giant African land snail was discovered in Miami

500: Number of agricultural crops known to be consumed by the snail

8” x 4”: Maximum size attained by individuals of the species

Nine: Maximum years in the life span of individuals

1,200: Number of eggs an adult can lay in one year

141,000+: Number of GALS found between September 2011and August 2014

27: Number of core areas where the snail has been found in Miami-Dade County

648: Number of properties on which snails have been found

58,729: Number of properties within a one-half-mile arc of positive properties

Nine +: Number of years it took to eradicate the snail after it was found in Florida in 1966

17,000: Total number of snails collected in the 1966-1975 eradication program

$1 million: Cost of that eradication (in 1960s dollars)

One: Number of successful GALS eradication programs on record

2012: Year in which the rat lungworm was confirmed in snails captured in Miami

92: Percentage of cases identified due to calls from the public to the Helpline

1-888-397-1517: Number of the Division of Plant Industry toll-free Helpline

August 14 2014

Public Awareness Campaign in Miami Led to Tip to State Hotline

Division of Plant Industry

Division of Plant Industry

Invasive and destructive Giant African Land Snails were located for the first time in Broward County Tuesday, September 9 when a Davie resident called in a tip one day after extensive media coverage of Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam’s press conference on the state’s snail eradication program.

Read the news release from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services here.

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