LOUISIANA (KTVE/KARD) — An invasive snail species called apple snails have started to threaten crawfish production in Louisiana.
According to a release issued by LSU AgCenter, entomologist Blake Wilson has found invasive apple snail egg masses in several parishes.
But according to Wilson, preventative measures can be taken to stop the spread and potential damage to the crawfish industry.
“It’s likely they may have shown up on new farms following the hurricanes last year,” Wilson said. “Any type of flooding can create an easy way for them to get into isolated ponds.”
It’s currently estimated that fewer than 3,000 acres of Louisiana’s 200,000 acres of crawfish farms have been affected, but those that are have been hit hard, with some reporting more than a 50% drop in the overall crawfish catch.
Apple snails were sold in pet stores in 2016 as “Mystery Snails,” “Island Snails,” and “Giant Apple Snails.” Whether intentional or not, a careless pet owner is likely thought to be the culprit of the initial spread into the wild.
According to Jacoby Carter, a wildlife ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey Wetland and Aquatic Research Center in Lafayette, the best way to destroy the egg masses in their first, bright pink stage is to scrape them into water, where they cannot survive or hatch. After they start to develop and turn white, it’s best to crush them.
Wilson believes chemical control solutions could be possible in the future, but those may come with more problems.
“Eventually, we might be able to identify a solution, but it’s not going to be a silver bullet,” Wilson said. “The best method of prevention is for farmers to remain aware, use controlled flooding with well water when possible and to clean their equipment thoroughly before transferring it from pond to pond.”