The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) established this Friday a quarantine in areas of Lee County, on the southwestern coast of the state, due to the presence of giant African land snails and the risk they pose to the health humans and crops.
The state agency reported today through a statement that in December 2022 the presence of giant African land snails (Lissachatina fulica) was confirmed in Lee County, which led to preventive measures and the entry into force of the quarantine this month of March.
Under the quarantine it is illegal to collect or move these snails outside the affected area, nor can you move plants, garden waste or debris in the space limited by the authorities.
The statement details that the FDACS will continue to use the same treatment for its eradication as in the past, a metaldehyde-based pesticide, a chemical compound commonly used against slugs, snails and other gastropods.
The quarantine It is in effect from the Billy Creek area along the Caloosahatchee River on Florida’s southwestern Gulf Coast for approximately 67 miles (108 kilometers).
According to the FDACS, the African land snail is one of the most damaging in the world and consumes hundreds of different plants, so its effects can be devastating to Florida’s agriculture and natural areas.
These snails also represent a serious risk to the health from humans by carrying the parasitic rat lungworm, which is the cause of meningitis.
The agency details that in June 2022, the FDACS Plant Industry Division began to inspect the area and began preparations for a possible agricultural pest.
The FDACS Plant Industry Division Nematology Laboratory had, as of July 2022, confirmed the presence of rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, in the population of giant African snails then detected in Pasco County.
In December 2022, the detection of a giant African land snail specimen in Lee County was confirmed, leading to the discovery of new specimens, requiring the FDACS to promulgate this quarantine.
Giant African land snails vary in phenotype (color pattern).
Previously eradicated populations in southern Florida and the current one in Lee County have dark brown shells with greyish-toned flesh.
Metaldehyde works by disrupting the mucus-producing ability of snails and slugs, reducing their digestion and mobility, as well as making them susceptible to dehydration.
The FDACS, last July, requested citizen collaboration to eliminate the giant African land snails detected in different areas of the state.
The giant African land snail has been eradicated twice in Florida, the first detection was in 1969 and it was eradicated in 1975.
The most recent removal of this pest was in 2021, after these types of snails were discovered in 2011 in Miami-Dade County.
the order of quarantine tries to prevent residents from coming into contact with and moving in the wild these mollusks, some of which can reach up to eight inches (20 centimeters) in length.
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