Watch for ‘Hitchhiking’ African Snails

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By Prior Beharry

TOBAGONIANS are being told to be on the lookout for Giant African Snails that may “hitchhike” on their vehicles.

A release from the Division of Food Security, Natural Resources, the Environment and Sustainable Development in the Tobago House of Assembly on Friday stated that the snails were present in six locations in Tobago:

They are:

  • Carnbee #2 Lamp post #57 and environs;
  • Corner Calder Hall Road and Calder Hall Traffic lights east;
  • Eboe Gully Les Coteaux;
  • Felicity Heights Whim;
  • Mt Grace Flats; and
  • #1 Lambeau Auchenskeoch next to Belgroves Funeral Home.

The Department of Agriculture stated, “Residents are further advised to place Methaldehyde bait under their vehicles at night to prevent ‘hitchhiking’ snails from moving to pest-free areas.”

It noted that this invasive snail consumes a vast range of plant species including vegetable crops, leguminous crops, fruit trees, root crops, forest trees and ornamentals. If the population increases beyond control.

The release added, “It can also become a public nuisance which can affect our tourism product.

“This pest is also a vector of the rat lung worm that causes eosinophilic meningitis in humans.”

To prevent the spread of this destructive pest throughout Tobago, the public is being told tofrom moving potted plants and other planting materials such as soil, mulch, grass clippings, compost, manure and general back yard refuse.

It stated that discarded materials that can harbour snails from the infested areas.

All garbage should be retained and incinerated in the infested areas, it stated.

The release stated, “Persons living in close proximity of the infested areas should be on the lookout for this pest in and around their premises.”

It stated, “The Department of Agriculture has been engaged in rigorous detection and eradication exercises to contain and eliminate this pest. In an effort to prevent new introductions of this pest; members of the public are asked to be vigilant when travelling between Trinidad and Tobago with your vehicles.

“Travellers should check their vehicles for ‘hitchhiking’ snails that may have attached themselves to the undercarriage, wheel hubs and trays prior to returning to Tobago. Bait can be placed around or under the vehicle the night prior to returning to Tobago.

“This bait can be obtained from most agroshops, and should contain the active ingredient: Methaldehyde.

“When purchasing plants in Trinidad it is recommended that you spray the plants, the potting soil and the underside of pots and crates with a pesticide prior to returning to Tobago.”

The release stated that the pesticides used should contain the active ingredient Thiodicarb.

It stated that the snail can be identified by its shell which is reddish brown in colour with cream longitudinal stripes and six or more whorls or segments of the shell.

The release stated, “If you see the snail, collect with gloved/covered hands and drown in a bleach solution (2 cups bleach to 1 gallon of water) or salt solution (2 cups salt to 1 gallon of water) in a closed container for 24 hours, and contact the Plant Protection Hotline at 482-7528/639-4616 as soon as possible for confirmation and follow up measures.”


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