Invasion of giant snails in South Florida: “dangerous for humans and the environment”

Invasion of giant snails in South Florida: “dangerous for humans and the environment”

It is a species of African origin that forced Port Richey authorities to quarantine the entire town.

Giant snails, over 20 centimeters long, are invading South Florida in the United States. Originally from Africa, they damage crops and are also dangerous for humans – scholars warn – as they are carriers of a parasite that could cause meningitis. Local authorities have quarantined the entire town of Port Richey.

A threat to ecosystem and health – According to experts, these snails have an average lifespan of over nine years and reproduce very quickly. Each specimen contains female and male reproductive organs that generate 1,200 eggs per year, even in the absence of a partner. Harmful to crops and infrastructure, they feed on plants, concrete and plastic. But it is not only the environment that is threatened. These creatures are able to transmit a parasite that attacks the pulmonary pathways of humans – the scholars warn – leading in the most serious cases to the development of meningitis.

The causes of the invasion – The origin of this invasion is still unclear, but it is suspected that the cause is the illegal trade in pets. Snails were first sighted during the 1960s in South Florida. A million dollars was invested in disinfesting the area over the span of a decade. But one of the difficulties in eradicating them from the territory is the absence of natural predators.

Quarantine – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has established a two-year quarantine. Port Richey citizens will not be able to move plants, soil, yard waste, debris, compost and building material outside the demarcated area. The battle against giant snails also involves the use of a pesticide, called metaldite, which is harmful to these specimens but harmless to plants and fruits.