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Miami-Dade County first place in U.S. where invasive snail from India found, it’s not good news

Pest can cause damage to crops and health problems in humans

The horntail snail from India was discovered in Miami-Dade County. (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A gastropod enthusiast in Coconut Grove eyed an odd-looking snail, scooped it up and sent it to the University of Florida. They identified it.

The news of its identification isn’t good — not for Florida and not for the United States, according to Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).

Found in India, it is a horntail snail (Macrochlamys indica), UF scientists discovered and FDACS confirmed it.

Miami-Dade County is the first known place where a horntail snail has been found in the United States.

The horntail snail is a well-known pest in India, where the voracious feeder with a delicate, amber-colored shell, can decimate a wide variety of commercial crops, including lettuce, beans, yams, and some flowers. The snail prefers cool, damp locations and may be found under pots or in moist soil. During dry, hot weather, it may burrow into the ground, according to FDACS.

It isn’t only bad for plants, it can cause health problems in humans.

As with other terrestrial snails in Florida, the horntail snail has the potential to be an intermediate host of rat lung worm, which can cause meningitis in humans. Gloves are advised when handling the snail. Research is continuing to gather further information about the horntail snail, according to Commissioner Nikki Fried, who heads the FDACS.

“The horntail snail is an invasive pest with the potential to cause serious health implications for Floridians,” she said.

Inspectors combed the area where it was found and discovered more of the snail sites in Miami-Dade County. FDACS is actively tracing how the pest made its way into Miami-Dade County and keeping tabs on its forward movement so that it can stop its spread.

If you see one of the snails, call (888) 397-1517 to report it.

About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.