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Here’s an article for newsletters.

September 18, 2012

We invite organizations to reprint the following article, written by FDACS/DPI staff, in their newsletters. If you do publish it, we would appreciate your letting us know: DPI-Blog@FreshFromFlorida.com


Officials Praise Public for Helping Battle Giant African Land Snail

By FDACS/DPI Staff

Contact: Denise Feiber, APR

352/395-4479

Search teams have captured more than 80,000 giant African land snails since the discovery of the massive mollusk in Miami-Dade County on September 8, 2011. Agriculture officials credit continued public vigilance for the identification of new areas of infestation. Inspectors continue to respond  to reports from the public, collecting the snails when they are found and applying bait in and around areas where snails have been detected.

Eighteen core areas , which delineate properties within one mile of a positive find,­ had been established as of Sept. 12, 2012. Most finds result from calls made by the public to the Florida Department of Agriculture Division of Plant Industry (DPI) Helpline, 888-397-1517.

The 80,000 snails collected in the past 12 months is more than four times the number collected over nine years during a previous eradication program in the 1960s. Back then, a boy smuggled three of the snails into Miami as pets. His grandmother released them into her garden. The resulting eradication effort cost $1 million in 1960s dollars and is the only known successful giant African land snail eradication program to date.

The giant African land snail (Achatina fulica) is one of the largest snails in the world. It is also the most dangerous.  It consumes at least 500 different types of plants, can cause structural damage to plaster and stucco, and, in rare cases, can carry a parasitic nematode that can lead to meningitis in humans, although no cases have been identified yet in the U.S.  It can grow up to eight inches in length and more than four inches in diameter. An individual can live as long as nine years. Adults lay about 1,200 eggs in a typical year.

Originally from East Africa, the snail has established itself throughout the Indo-Pacific Basin, including the Hawaiian Islands. It has also been introduced into the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe with recent detections in Saint Lucia, Barbados and South America. It is illegal to import Giant African land snails into the United States without a permit. Currently no permits have been issued.

Anyone who believes they may have seen a giant African land snail or signs of its presence should call the Division of Plant Industry’s toll-free Helpline at 1-888-397-1517 to arrange to have the snail collected.

For more information on invasive snail species, visit: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/pi/gals/

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