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Apple snails invade Louisiana waterways

Apple snails (FOX 8 Photo) Apple snails (FOX 8 Photo)

At first glance, it looks like a piece of bubble gum stuck to the cement wall of the bridge over City Park’s Lagoon, but that pink blob is actually a cluster of apple snail eggs.

“From the egg cluster, those tiny tiny eggs will hatch and little snails will drop into the water,” said Michael Massimi, invasive species coordinator for the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program.

Hundreds of apple snails will hatch from one cluster, and it’s already creating a population explosion across Louisiana. The invasive snails are wreaking havoc in some waterways.

“People are alarmed of those pink clusters. Nobody’s really seen them before. Nothing looks like that in the swamp,” Massimi said.

Massimi said the snails, originally from South American, were sold as aquarium pets until people started discarding them in neighborhood canals.

“We first saw them in Louisiana in a drainage canal in the back of a Gretna subdivision in 2006,” Massimi said.

The snails eat aquatic vegetation, and there’s a worry about what will happen if they continue to populate.

“Apple snails are indiscriminate. They are going to destroy fishing habitats and convert these wonderful streams into muddy water bottoms,” Massimi said.

Massimi said the snails are now invading wild areas where critical wetlands exist.

“Now, they’ve gotten out of the bayous. They’re in the National Wildlife Reserve, even in places south of the Gulf Inter coastal Waterway,” Massimi said.

There’s no silver bullet pesticide that can be used to kill the snails.

If you come in contact with a pink egg cluster, Massimi encourages people to destroy it before the eggs can hatch. Meanwhile, his team, along with the L.A. Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries, will continue to monitor the invasive creature.

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