MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - They are snails that lay bright pink eggs, and they could be doing severe harm to Louisiana's vanishing wetlands and crawfish production. The state wildlife department says apple snails have now showed up in two new Louisiana parishes, and they are currently on display on the North Shore.
"They are now in Vermillion Parish and are moving into the rice-growing regions," said Bobby Reed with the State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Those same regions are also home to thousands of acres of crawfish farms, and the snails are so plentiful that they have clogged some crawfish traps, forcing farmers to shut down the harvest season early. They can eat valuable rice crops and wetland grasses that hold the marsh together and provide food for crawfish.
Apple snails are voracious eaters. They recently showed up in Pointe Coupee Parish and False River and are spreading from Lake Charles to the Pearl River.
State wildlife experts say the invasive snails carry potentially fatal rat lungworm disease and may be transported by birds or running water. But humans may also be at least partly responsible for their spread.
"The young hatchlings are on the carpet runners of boat trailers," said Reed.
State wildlife and fisheries says there's really only one way to control the apple snail population, and that's to knock them off of their nesting spots. Though they may die if they fall in the water, experts say it's better to get them on dry land.
"Just take the egg case, and deposit it away from the water - in a garbage can or throw them in a trash can," said Reed.
Some birds eat the snails, but out in open water, state officials say there's little that can be done. In a closed area like this Mandeville pond, wildlife experts say the population may be easier to control.
There are currently no chemicals to help control the apple snail population. If you see apple snails or their eggs, you're encouraged to call the state hotline at (225) 765-3977.