Giant African Land Snails take over Coral Gables
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (WSVN) -- Residents have been dealing with a neighborhood nuisance for over a year.
Oversized snails have taken over the area and the problem has not gone away. Now, the Department of Agriculture is battling with the invasive species. "It's been a year, and we will continue to work with you to eradicate giant African snails," said Dr. Trevor Smith.
The war continues against an elusive enemy. The Giant African Land Snail, an invasive species, which is causing a big problem in Miami-Dade County. Smith, of the Florida Department of Agriculture, is leading the charge against the mollusk.
"The snails are very, very good at what they do," said Smith. "Their job is to go into a new area, breed and spread. They can lay 1,200 eggs in a year. They can eat 500 different plants."
The battle began a year ago, when the snail first surfaced near Coral Gables, devouring plants, landscaping and more. "To produce their shell, they need a lot of calcium," said Smith. "They'll get it wherever they can get it. They'll chew on cement blocks, they'll chew on stucco."
Even more alarming is the health risk. The snail can spread meningitis to humans through a microscopic worm. That's why state and federal agencies are teaming up to eradicate the threat.
Since finding the snail, researchers have developed new traps and poisons that are safe to use in the city. But hand-to-hand combat is still the number one weapon.
In the past year, inspectors have pulled more than 77,000 Giant African Land Snails from 17 designated hot spots in Miami-Dade County. But despite the 12-month offensive, the snail is still making gains. "They're still there each time it rains," said Reinalso Rodriguez, whose yard is infested. "They keep popping out."
"I saw two together like this it was yuck! Disgusting!" said Alex Rodriguez.
Experts believe the Giant African Land Snail hitched a ride to South Florida on some international cargo. If you see one, you are asked to report it.
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