Authorities were searching for some slimy and dangerous intruders in Coral Gables on Thursday.
Giant African Land Snails were rapidly reproducing in the area of Douglas Park between SW 28th Street and SW 36th Avenue, and officials say they can be hazardous.
These snails consume about 500 different kinds of plants, and they can cause damage to plaster and stucco. They also carry a parasitic worm that can lead to meningitis in humans.
"They populate at an incredible rate. Exponential is an understatement, from two to 2000, that's an exaggeration, but it felt like that," said resident Jason Tesser. "There are hundreds of them in backyard."
Dr. Vincente Conte says the worms cause a form of meningitis, which right now there is no treatment for.
This species is one of the largest of snails in the world. They grow up to eight inches in length and more than four inches in width. Their lifespan is around nine years.
Authorities are asking anyone who may have seen these snails to call to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 888-397-1517 or look online at their website.
Published at 5:16 PM EDT on Sep 15, 2011 | Updated at 7:08 PM EDT on Sep 15, 2011