Trapping Tons of Exotic Snails from Wellman Pond

Newly Planted Wellman Pond (9/2007)

 Officially opened on June 1, 2009, Martha Wellman Park provides a lighted, paved loop around a beautiful pond and a perfect place for us to study the Island Apple Snail (Pomacea insularum). Aside from easy access, the gradual slope of the bathymetry, and relatively firm substrate, the burgeoning exotic snail population made this 15-acre (6.1 ha) pond ideal for our work. We also had a great incentive to learn how to control the exotic snails there. As part of the construction of this stormwater treatment pond, a large number of native, emergent plants were placed along the entire shoreline at a cost of $565,000 – – Soft-stem Rush (142,124), Duck Potato (51,227), Arrowhead (22,673) and Pickerelweed (27,468).  After one growing season, 75% of the emergent plants were gone, including all of the Arrowhead and Pickerelweed.

Dense population of Pomacea insularum (2007)

In the fall of 2007, we began hand-collecting snail eggs and adults in Wellman Pond to save the extensive littoral planting effort funded by the FWCC from the voracious Island Apple Snail. Manually controlling the snails and eggs helped, but clearly something more efficient was needed. In the spring of 2008, we began testing various baiting and trapping methods. We had observed that the exotic snails had excellent chemoreception and could be easily attracted to certain foods. We also noted their proclivity to hide in black plastic (HDPE) flower pots, especially under any broad lip. Finally, we could see that the snail’s mobility was impeded by thin, vertical planes not touching the bottom. Putting this all together, we devised a trapping system that is highly effective on exotic apple snails.

Apple Snail Trap in Wellman Pond 

With funding from Blueprint 2000 and Leon County, we deployed 30 Snail Busters’ Apple Snail Traps (patent pending) in Wellman Pond in 2008 and 2009. As we cleaned and baited the traps, we also collected any eggs and adults we observed.  By the end of 2008, we had removed 4.16 tons of snails and 2,135,200 individual eggs! In 2009, the numbers dropped to 0.89 tons of snails and 1,106,400 individual eggs, in response to a much smaller population. This snail control program has stabilized the aquatic plants and the remaining plants were saved. Since these efforts were instituted there has been no subsequent loss of plants in the pond. The surviving plants are growing and reproducing. We are seeing a lot of new growth in the pond for the first time in the past two years. This is the best barometer of success. Posted by Jess Van Dyke

Wellman Pond (9/2009)


6 Responses to “Trapping Tons of Exotic Snails from Wellman Pond”

  1. 1 Yulfaizy January 27, 2010 at 11:13 am


    Can i get more info about the trapping. Did you sold in other country. I am from Malaysia. We have problem with the Pomacea snail attacking in paddy field. Hope you can suggest some control for this problem. Where can we get the trap and how much the price of the trap?

    Thank you.

    best regard,
    Doa Malaysia

  2. 2 snailbusters1 January 27, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Greetings Yulfaizy, I will be glad to help you and will contact you directly soon. Jess

  3. 3 josh young April 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Are there any studies that show the impact of removing the trophic energy the snail population represents? How does that affect the C and N cycles over the course of a decade or so?

    Why is it reported that some snail populations stabilize over time and others don’t? Is it simple nutrient ecology?

  4. 4 snailbusters1 April 30, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Good questions, Josh. I am more concerned about the “trophic energy” production shift that can occur when most vascular aquatic plants are consumed by the invasive, exotic snails, and there is a shift to a phytoplankton-based system (Carlsson, 2004). No one knows the long term impacts on C, N, or anything else, but patterns are emerging (see the Recent Publications page). The first paper on that page by Padilla et al (2010) states: “Stability and persistence of habitats can result in different predator communities and the risk of predation for snails.” Maybe, predators have an edge when water levels are stable and plant cover is lost. In essence, the snails eat their refuge from predation in stable systems. I don’t think snail population stabilization or decline is based on nutrition because the snails are SO omnivorous (from filamentous algae, terrestrial plants, to dead snakes!). Thanks for your comments! Jess

  5. 5 Kim March 10, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I am interested in getting some apple snails for my goldfish pond to eat the algae but I am concerned about 4 things:
    1. Will the apple snail eat my water lilies if I feed them vegetables?
    2. How far will apple snail travel from water? I am the only water body in the neighborhood but I do not want to contribute to the snail’s populus since I understand the negative impact from the snail.
    3. Does the snail carry any diseases that could be harmful for my goldfish?
    4. And, are the apple snails edible? I love escargot.

    I have also seen your youtube video and I know that you have found the snails in the Armand Bayou. I would like to know where on the bayou, since I do want to find some for my pond.

    Thank you,

  6. 6 snailbusters1 April 10, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    1. Pomacea insularum will certainly eat your waterlilies.
    2. Pomacea insularum is often characterized as “aquatic,” but it is an “amphibious” species, in reality. While adult snails won’t travel very far from water, flooding events can cause large range expansions. Also, juvenile snail are capable of flying many miles . . . attached to the legs of wading birds!
    3. Snails, in general, are hosts of numerous fish diseases.
    4. Pomacea are certainly edible, however, I suggest freezing them before cooking them thoroughly. Though very rare (so far), Rat Lungworm is in North America, and it’s not at all pleasant.

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About Snail Busters

The Snail Busters Blog was created to facilitate communication between aquatic resource managers who are fighting the spread of invasive, South American apple snails, specifically Pomacea maculata (formerly P. insularum) and P. canaliculata, in the U.S.

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