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African snails

  • Published
    15th Jun, 2022

Farmers of kerela’s Idukki district abandoned cultivation as African snail species destroys crops.

  • Inadequate monsoon and improper cleaning works during the pandemic had intensified their habitation in the region.

Important facts about the species

  • The Giant African Snail Achatina fulica is an exotic pest introduced from East Africa to India in 1847 itself.
  • This is the biggest land snail having a protective shell, measuring about 19 cm in length.
  • This snail is a hermaphrodite and lays 50-200 yellowish eggs on soil surface.
  • Hatching takes place in about a week’s period and the young ones grow up to a year and reach sexual maturity.
  • The life span of this snail is 3-5 years. And those hatching towards the end of rainy season take a long time to mature as they undergo hibernation and aestivation for up to two years without food.
  • It can cause Eosinophilic meningitis in Humans.

How does it cause menace?

  • It is very active during monsoon, nocturnal in behaviour and damages crops like papaya, brinjal, beans, okra, cole crops, areca nut, rubber buds, coffee seedlings, orchids, etc.
  • The snail eats the leaves, stems, fruits and flowers of host plants causing severe damage to the young saplings especially in nurseries.
  • It also contaminates leafy vegetables with its excrement.

Controlling techniques

  • The locations of hiding places and snails are to be destroyed.
  • Hand collection and destruction will be effective during early phase of infestation.
  • Cut pieces of papaya stems may be placed for attracting and trapping the snails.
  • Use wet gunny bags and papaya leaves as bait to collect and destroy them.
  • Marigold can be raised as trap crop around vegetable fields.
  • Lime or bleaching powder may be sprinkled in the infested area.
  • Common salt may also be spread on the snail infested area.
  • Predatory snails, hermit crabs and millipedes are found to feed on this snail and check the increasing population.
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