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Snail Hunters Familiar Sight where Giant African Land Snail has been Found

September 27, 2012

Teams from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are taking a new tack as they work to eradicate giant African land snails from Miami-Dade County. This week they began a three-month trial using new traps and bait on 36 of the most heavily infested properties in five of 18 core areas where eradication efforts are underway. A core is an area with a radius of one-half mile, drawn around a find.

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

Core residents have gotten to know the members of the team assigned to their neighborhoods. One team regularly works in each core so residents and inspectors become familiar with each other. Teams consist of a team leader and five inspectors.

Each team is responsible for mechanical (hand) collection, bait application and debris removal when necessary. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services currently has 43 employees dedicated to the program and expects to hire more.

Public outreach is an important part of the program. In October, we will reach out to residents through billboards, radio and television ads, urging them to look for the snail and report sightings. The Miami-Dade community continues to support the eradication efforts. In fact, reports by the public to the Helpline, 1 (88)397-1517, have been responsible for establishment of 90 percent of the core areas. Teams have captured more than 84,000 snails in those cores .

The giant African land snail is a slimy, voracious agricultural and urban plant pest. It feeds on more than 500 plants and extracts calcium from concrete on the sides of houses. It can grow up to eight inches in length and can live for nine yeras. Adults typically lay up to 1,200 eggs annually, so populations can quickly grow to the tens of thousands.

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