The Snail Busters Blog was created to facilitate networking among aquatic resource managers who seek to stop the spread of the invasive, exotic, apple snails (Pomacea canaliculata and Pomacea maculata (formerly Pomacea insularum)), in the United States. My name is Jess Van Dyke. I recently retired from Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection after 35 years of service, the last 26 years as Regional Biologist in Northwest Florida. My goal at FDEP was to preserve and protect native biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems. That is still my passion.
In 2002, I noticed numerous, bright-pink egg clusters on most of the cypress trees surrounding Lake Munson (255 acres), south of Tallahassee. This lake is nutrient-rich and was heavily vegetated. Within a few years, this lake was completely stripped of aquatic plants stimulating a persistent bluegreen algae bloom. I was simply stunned by the impact of the Island Apple Snail (Pomacea insularum) on this lake and alarmed by the implications.
The Island Apple Snail has since spread rapidly in the Tallahassee area. What will stop this invasive snail from destroying the aquatic habitat in every lake, river, and marsh in the Southern Coastal Plain? What about such treasures, as the Everglades National Park? I have also read about the exotic apple snails invading Hawaii and destroying Taro production. Globally, the South American apple snails threaten not only natural areas but also agriculture, especially rice production. What about rice production in the U.S.?
I searched the literature for an answer to these invasive and destructive snails and was discouraged. Valuable, hands-on experience came from controlling these exotic snails in a stormwater pond southwest of Tallahassee. We found that handpicking alone is labor-intensive and ineffective, given the incredible reproductive capacity of these organisms. Pesticides labeled for aquatic use are rare and non-selective. Therefore, we relied on baiting and trapping the apple snails, removing 4 tons from the 15 acre system. We want to share our experiences with others professionals attempting to control exotic apple snail in the U.S. and learn from your experiences. Together, perhaps we can stop the expansion of these destructive pests.