Crews continue fight against Great African land snails

Non-native slugs carry bacteria, parasite that can cause meningitis

Author: Ben Kennedy, Reporter, bkennedy@Local10.com
Published On: Sep 05 2012 11:50:05 AM EDT   Updated On: Sep 05 2012 04:11:59 PM EDT
Giant African land snail
NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. -

The battle against the giant African snail continues as crews work to get the critter out of Florida.

"Are we winning? The answer is we are winning, but it won't be a short-term effort," said Florida Department of Agriculture Division of Plant Industry Director Richard Gaskalla.

The state has tracked down and caught 80,000 shelled slugs this year. Despite the good news, they continue to scoot into backyards.

"They grow quickly. They can eat just about anything out there. Even the larger ones can eat a lot of poison and detoxify -- they are tough all around," said Dr. Trevor Smith.

The non-native slugs carry dangerous bacteria and a parasite that can cause meningitis. They also destroy native plants and insects and leave behind a slimy path.

"They are stubborn and persistent. You might knock out one -- you have all those eggs under ground waiting to emerge," said Dr. Smith.

One snail can lay up to 1,200 eggs in one year.