Snails a Huge Concern for Louisiana Rice and Crawfish Farmers
To say Louisiana's crawfish industry has had a tough spring would be the understatement of the year. The industry that features the iconic food of the state has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic. Since many restaurants and bars had to either close or reduce capacity, and homegrown crawfish boils had to be limited, it's just not been a good year for making money out of the mud.
Now comes word of another slow-moving terror that has been a thorn in Louisiana's side for about a decade. Okay, terror might not be the right word, especially when you consider the offensive creature we are speaking about is a snail. An apple snail if we are being more precise.
The invasive creature was first noted in Louisiana about 10 years ago and already this spring the creatures have wreaked havoc on crawfish farms in Vermilion, Acadia, and Jeff Davis parishes. In fact, in March it was reported that the snails wiped out a 50-acre field of rice.
The snails are attracted to the bait fishermen put in their crawfish traps. Once the food is discovered by the snails, they pile in leaving very little room for crawfish. Some fishermen/farmers have reported five to ten pounds of snails in each trap.
As a result farmers on the affected farms, about ten have been reported in the state so far, are having to make drastic decisions about moving forward. Some farmers had to stop their harvest and drain their ponds. In some cases that's reduced the producers yield by as much as 50%.
If you're thinking, "why don't we eat those snails"? that would be a valid question. They are edible but have been known to carry rat lungworm, a parasite that can kill humans. So, it looks as if the snails are off the menu.
Should you encounter apple snails or their eggs on or in your rice or crawfish ponds you're encouraged to call the LSU AgCenter for best practices on what to do next to protect your farm and the farms of those around you.