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Miami-Dade Residents: Watch for Giant African Land Snails while Hunting Easter Eggs

March 28, 2013

Will your kids be hunting for Easter eggs this weekend?

We hope so.

In future years, you’ll cherish memories of coloring and decorating the eggs, playing Bunny as you hide them and then watching the kids romp to the hunt. Be sure to take some photos for the family album.

And all of those eggs? There are lots of ways your family can enjoy them over the course of the next few days. (Egg salad, deviled eggs — even meatballs, if you’re in a creative mood.)

three-easter-eggs-in-grass

Easter eggs: Good!

GALS_(AndrewD%202011-09-10)_026_small

Giant African land snail: Bad!

In Miami-Dade, watch for giant African land snails

If you live in the Miami-Dade area, though, you will want to take some precautions. The giant African land snail (or GALS) may intrude on your hunt. They grow up to eight inches long, eat at least 500 different types of plants and can damage buildings. It can also pose a serious health risk to humans because it can harbor the microscopic rat lungworm, which can transmit a form of meningitis to humans.

You don’t want GALS showing up at your party. If it does, you and your children need to be able to recognize it and take precautions as you report it to our Helpline, 1-888-397-1517. This sheet will help you identify the GALS.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry and the Dade County school system have developed the Junior Detective Program, enlisting properly trained fourth grade students and their parents in a program to look for and report the GALS.

If you are a parent in Miami-Dade county, we suggest you watch the short video on this page, with your children. It was developed for the Junior Detective Program and it shows what GALS look like, where to look for them and what to do once they are found.  If you and your fourth grader are interested in participating in the Junior Detective Program, contact your child’s science teacher.

Because of the meningitis risk, no one – adult or child – should touch the snail.

Report every find to the Helpline: 1-888-397-1517. Our inspectors will respond and collect the snails.

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