How Apple Snails Entered the United States

Question: How did the invasive apple snails enter the U.S.?

Answer: Nobody really knows exactly where the point of entry was. The suspicion or the guess is that it came in on the aquarium industry, but it could have come in from ships or shipments of things; nobody’s really got a clue. They’ve kind of mapped out where they believe the highest density or highest populations are currently, which would kind of indicate where they may have made a point of entry. The biggest or the highest population densities right now are Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and South Carolina. So somewhere through that coastal area is where it seems to be the biggest problem.

They’ve tracked their population and where they’re moving to, and they’re moving at an alarming rate. Florida is having a particular problem where they planted these pretty large everglade areas down in south Florida, I think they planted somewhere around 56,000 acres, and last year one population of snails totally de-vegetated a 750 acre area of that 56,000. That’s one year of activity. That’s alarming, because that vegetation was planted there as a form of phosphorus control coming from the Everglades, which is some of that stuff that you’re seeing down in south Florida with those harmful algal blooms that are being created from water that is being discharged from the Everglades. So the snail is a huge problem there, but more importantly, we’re seeing it along the coastal areas where they’re de-vegetating that area.

But they’re getting closer and closer to the core of our rice industry, which is all the upper Louisiana/upper Mississippi, Arkansas market. And if it ever reaches there, it could be devastating to our U.S. production of rice.

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