Giant African Land Snails Still a Problem in Miami-Dade County

Miami is "ground zero for invasive species," said Division of Plant Industry Director Richard Gaskalia

By Julia Bagg
|  Wednesday, Sep 5, 2012  |  Updated 4:54 PM EDT
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A year into trying to make giant, invasive snails disappear from South Florida, the pests haven't been beaten yet.

A year into trying to make giant, invasive snails disappear from South Florida, the pests haven't been beaten yet.

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A year into trying to make giant, invasive snails disappear from South Florida, the pests haven't been beaten yet.

The Florida Department of Agriculture first identified the latest infestation in September 2011.

It's not the first such invasion for Giant African Land Snails, said Division of Plant Industry Director Richard Gaskalla.

Miami is "ground zero for invasive species," he said.

The last giant snail infestation happened in the1960s.

"We know we can get rid of this invasive pest, it's just going to require alot of effort," Gaskalla said.

The snails eat 500 different kinds of plants, and even stucco. They have no natural predators in South Florida.

Each day, 50 inspectors fan out across Miami-Dade County collecting the pesky mollusks.

Inspectors use organic bait that wrecks the animal's digestive system. They also collect the snails and freeze them to death.

The Giant African Snail "likes this environment," said Gaskalla. "What we want to do is make it feel very unwelcome."

That takes patience; and inspection after inspection of neighborhoods and backyards.

"If we do this over and over again, in two or three years I think we can come back and say we are very close to eradicating the Giant African Land Snail," said Gaskalla.

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