Invasive Snails Are Coming For Our Rice and Crawfish
When it comes to vital local resources in our state, food comes in at the top of the list. Not just any food either, but the food we do best. You know, delicious stuff like crawfish and rice. Unfortunately, those two staples of the Louisiana menu (and economy) are under attack from a foreign adversary.
Ampullariidae (commonly referred to as the "Apple Snail" because at maturity, they are roughly the size of a large apple) first invaded the Sportsman's paradise about 14 years ago, and has been found to infest various bodies of water in close to 30 parishes. Biologists have been closely monitoring this invasive species' slow northern march since these South American snails were first discovered in Gretna in 2006. Now, these insatiable mollusks have set their greedy little eye-stalks on rice fields and crawfish farms - and they are devastating.
According to the Advocate, these voracious arthropods have decimated a 50-acre rice field and are causing some crawfish farmers to drain their fields and give up this years crop entirely! The snails don't eat the mudbugs - they're attracted to the bait used to draw the craw-daddies in. Basically, they are filling the traps - leaving no room for crawfish. Some farmers are reporting that their traps are turning out 12 crates of snails per day, with little or no crawfish.
To this point, 10 crawfish operations have been affected - but experts believe that this is just the beginning. On top of that, all eradication efforts have stalled thus far. Unfortunately, the pesticides that kill the snails also kills the crawfish. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) recommends is asking the public to help stomp out the spread of these damaging creatures - literally.
They say that while the snails themselves may be hard to see in the wild, their eggs are not. These creepy crawlies leave behind clutches of bright pink eggs that number between 200 and 600 individual eggs on boat docks, vegetation, or really anything near the water. The LDWF recommends scraping them into the water or crushing them. Be warned: The eggs contain a neurotoxin that could irritate eyes and/or skin.
Here's the silver lining! These things are edible, in fact - in some countries they are delicacies! This is Louisiana, we're just a few thousand bowls of gumbo away from fixing this issue!