Recap of December First Friday with Florida First Detector
On December 2nd, we covered the basics of invasive snails and slugs. Snails and slugs are a type of mollusk called a gastropod. Slugs are different than snails in that they typically lack a visible shell. For slug identification, we look at characteristics like the body length, body color/markings, pores, tail construction and keel construction. However, snails are often identified based on the characteristics of their shells like shape, width, height, number of whorls, and more.
Like other invasive species, invasive snails and slugs can cause many problems. Many species are pests of agricultural and horticultural plants. They can also disrupt local ecosystems by impacting the plant species or even predating on native snails and slugs. In addition, snails and slugs can harbor pathogens and parasites that can harm humans and animals. Over the years, we have had some invasive slugs and snails introduced to Florida.
One of the most worrisome introductions is the Giant African Land Snail, Lissachatina fulica. Florida has a long history with the Giant African Land Snail. This species poses a risk to our agriculture, horticulture, natural ecosystems and human and animal health. It is one of the world’s most troublesome snails. Not to mention, it is also one of the world’s largest snails. It was introduced to Florida in the 1960’s and eradicated in the early 70’s costing nearly $1 million dollars for its removal over 10 years. In 2011, they found this snail again in South Florida, and it took a decade and $23 million to eradicate.
Most recently, they found Giant African Land Snail this year in Pasco County which quickly triggered another eradication program. Currently, there are efforts to quarantine and eradicate this pest from Florida once again. If you suspect you have found Giant African Land Snail, you can call the FDACS Tollfree Hotline at 1-888-397-1517. Early detection is critical to swiftly removing this pest from Florida. If you see something suspicious, report it!
Resources on Gastropods and Identification
- Terrestrial Mollusk ID Tool
- Terrestrial slugs of Florida EDIS
- Terrestrial snails affecting plants in Florida EDIS
- FDACS Giant African Land Snail Resources
- USDA Resources on Giant African Land Snail
- Exotic Pet Amnesty Program
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Contact Dr. Morgan Pinkerton, email@example.com
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