It’s Back: The Giant African Land Snail

By Frank Giles

On June 23, 2022, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) confirmed the detection of a giant African land snail (GALS) in the New Port Richey area of Pasco County. FDACS’s Division of Plant Industry started surveying the area, enacted a quarantine and began treatment to eliminate the pest. GALS are illegal to import or possess in the United States without a permit.

Giant African Land Snail
The giant African land snail can grow up to 8 inches long and poses a threat to Florida agriculture.
Photo: Pest and Disease Image Library

FDACS is treating properties with a metaldehyde-based molluscicide (snail bait). The treatment is labeled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for residential use.

The giant African land snail has been eradicated twice in Florida. The first detection was in 1969 and was eradicated in 1975. The most recent eradication of this pest was in 2021 from a detection in 2011 in Miami-Dade County. Prior to the recent detection, the last live snail in Florida was collected in Miami-Dade County in December of 2017.

The snail is a highly invasive agricultural pest, known to feed on over 500 varieties of plants. They also pose a risk to humans and animals by carrying rat lung worm, a parasite that can cause meningitis in humans. The pest also feeds on the stucco of homes as a source of calcium.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried held a press briefing on the GALS on July 7 to inform the public and seek help in monitoring for the pest.

“We are so lucky to have an experienced team ready to prevent, detect and treat invasive threats,” Fried said during the briefing. “Let me assure you, we will eradicate these snails. We have done it twice before, and we will do it again – it is not a question of if, but when. Together, let’s locate, communicate and eradicate, so Florida can again be GALS free.”

If you see a snail that you believe is a giant African land snail, please contact the FDACS Division of Plant Industry helpline at 1-888-397-1517 and do not attempt to touch or capture yourself.

About the Author

Frank Giles

Editor-in-Chief AgNet Media Publications