The horntail snail has been found in Florida, local agricultural reps said
By Diego Flammini
An insect native to parts of Asia has been discovered in the United States.
The Macrochlamys indica, commonly known as the horntail snail, was found in Miami-Dade County in Florida, the state confirmed on Thursday.
“The horntail snail is an invasive pest with the potential to cause serious health implications for Floridians,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in an Oct. 1 statement. “Our Division of Plant Industry and essential industry partners are continuing to monitor this threat and working towards a plan to stop the horntail snail’s spread into other areas of Florida.”
Since the original discovery on Sept. 30, multiple sites with the snail have been identified.
The pest is native to Bangladesh and India but has also been found in Egypt.
It gets its name from a fleshy piece of skin resembling a horn on the tip of its tail. Its shell is about the size of a dime, is amber-colored and delicate.
The insect feeds on multiple crops including broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. It also eats beans, moringa, yams and members of the cucurbits family.
“The snails are voracious feeders and will consume seedlings entirely,” a Florida Department of Agriculture fact sheet says.
The pests are most active at night or after rainfall and prefer cool conditions. In periods of dry weather, they will burrow underground.
After reaching four months of age, the snail can begin to lay eggs. One insect can lay between 45 and 900 eggs per year.
Detailed information on how to control these snails isn’t available. A program to survey, control and eradicate these insects has been put into action, Florida’s ag department said.
In addition to crop risks, these insects can pose a health risk to humans.
The horntail snail has the potential to be a host for rat lung worm, which can cause meningitis in humans.
If one must handle the snail, wear gloves, Florida’s ag department recommends.
Farms.com has reached out to entomologists for comment.