Parts of Pasco County are now under quarantine because of giant African land snails

The snails can consume over 500 varieties of plants and are known for their ability to eat through stucco and paint.

click to enlarge A giant African land snail - Photo via Adobe
Photo via Adobe
A giant African land snail
Giant African land snails, referred to by the Florida Department of Agriculture (FDACS) as "one of the most invasive species on the planet," have been found near New Port Richey in Pasco County, and now a significant portion of the area is under a quarantine.

Reports of the invasive snail first appeared on June 21. The snails were son found near New Port Richey two days later, sending Pasco's southwestern corner into treatment and quarantine to prevent the snails from spreading.

According to FDACS, the quarantine area starts "at the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 19 and Ridge Road. Proceed east on Ridge Road, south on Little Road, west on Trouble Creek Road, north on U.S. Highway 19."
click to enlarge Parts of Pasco County are now under quarantine because of giant African land snails (2)
Photo via
Treatment of the area began today, wherein FDACS's Division of Plant Industry will treat the quarantined properties with a metaldehyde-based molluscicide.

During this time, it is unlawful to transport an African land snail, or any yard waste, debris, compost or building materials through the quarantined area without a compliance agreement.

According to the state department's pest alert, the snails can grow up to eight inches and can cause environmental and agricultural damage "wherever it is found," as the hardy mollusk can feed on over 500 varieties of plants, including stucco and paint foundo n home foundations.

Notably, the snails also pose a risk to humans, and carry the parasite rat lungworm, known to cause meningitis. The alert advises against handling the snails "without proper protection and sanitation."

Historically, getting rid of these pests is not easy.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the snails have been identified in southern Florida once in the 1969, eradicated in 1975, and again in 2011, eradicated in 2021 — both times, it took millions of dollars address the issue.

What makes these snails so hard to stop? The snails reproduce quickly and can at just four months, are able to lay thousands of eggs in its multiple-year lifespan.

Though the snails are federally illegal to sell and own, the snails are popular in pet trade in other countries.

Pasco isn't the only Bay Area county under quarantine for an invasive species. Last month, Oriental fruit flies were identified in Pinellas County, prompting a 113-square mile quarantine zone to be established. 
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