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Drop in Giant African Snail Population in Miami-Dade Signals Progress

July 26, 2013

Since detecting giant African land snails (GALS) in Miami-Dade County neighborhoods nearly two years ago, teams from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry photo (2)(FDACS/DPI)  have collected 125,000 of the mollusks. As eradication efforts continue, officials cite a significant decline in the snail population as evidence of the program’s success.

SealColor

Division of Plant Industry

Fortunately, GALS have not been found in any other county in Florida, although extensive surveys continue for the voracious snails that can grow to be eight inches long and attack more than 500 plant species. The giant snail can also damage structures by consuming stucco to obtain calcium to build its shell.

Giant African land snails also pose a threat to public health. Scientists from FDACS/DPI have confirmed some of the captured snails carry the rat lungworm parasite, which can cause a form of meningitis in humans. While no meningitis cases have been traced to the snails in Miami, no one should handle any snail or slug without gloves and 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.

All suspected GALS should be reported to the Helpline, (1-888-397-1517) and should never be moved off-property, handled or consumed.

Snailhunter

A FDACS/DPI inspector looks for giant African land snails in foliage on a residential property in Miami-Dade.

The initial GALS find in Miami-Dade County in September 2011 fostered an intensive joint eradication program by FDACS/DPI and the United States Department of Agriculture. Since the detection, the USDA has committed more than $6.5 million in federal funds and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has spent about $1,375,000 on the program.

Currently, FDACS/DPI is managing the program with about 50 employees working in Miami-Dade, conducting survey, control and related program activities. Experts at the FDACS Division of Plant Industry laboratories in Gainesville support the teams in Miami-Dade.

Teams of inspectors have found the snails on more than 550 properties in 21 core areas of Miami-Dade. They have collected more than 125,000 snails since the original find.

Public support has been crucial. Officials attribute much of 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 their patience by allowing inspectors to access their properties for continued survey and control efforts.

The other component adding to the program’s success is the approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the application of a stronger bait on snail-positive and surrounding properties. Snail mortality rates have risen considerably since these applications began.

The “Look for them! Report them!” campaign continues to spread the word about the snail, urging residents to call the Hotline, 1-888-397-1517, if they believe they have seen a snail.

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2 Responses to “Drop in Giant African Snail Population in Miami-Dade Signals Progress”


  1. […] Drop in Giant African Snail Population in Miami-Dade Signals Progress (fldpi.wordpress.com) […]


  2. […] Drop in Giant African Snail Population in Miami-Dade Signals Progress (fldpi.wordpress.com) […]


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