Several species of exotic snails are serious pests of plants and threats to public health.
Scientists consider the giant African snail, Lissachatina fulica, to be one of the most damaging snails in the world. It is known to eat at least 500 different types of plants, including breadfruit, cassava, cocoa, papaya, peanut, rubber, and most varieties of beans, peas, cucumbers, and melons. Believed to be originally from East Africa, L. fulica has established itself throughout the IndoPacific Basin, including the Hawaiian islands. This mollusk has also been introduced to the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Recently, L. fulica infestations were detected on Saint Lucia and Barbados. In 1966, a Miami, FL, boy smuggled three giant African snails into south Florida upon returning from a trip to Hawaii. His grandmother eventually released the snails into her garden. Seven years later, more than 18,000 snails had been found along with scores of eggs. The Florida State eradication program took 10 years at a cost of $1 million.
In September 2011, giant African snail was detected in Miami, Florida. APHIS, in partnership with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is conducting a regulatory program to eradicate this invasive species.
Melinda Sullivan, PhD
Acting National Policy Manager