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Giant snail poses danger to farmers

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BATON ROUGE -Scientists fear the Giant Apple Snail could destroy rice crops in west Louisiana. The snail is an invasive species from South America that is slowly eating up aquatic plants across the southern part of the state.

"They're considered one of the worst invasive species in the world," Jacoby Carter with the US Geological Survey says. "They are in the top 100 list of bad invasive species," he added.

The snails live in fresh water and can grow as large as a person's fist. Right now,  they're primarily found in eastern and coastal parishes but may eventually end up in western waters where farmers grow rice.

Carter said they've been a problem in Asian rice paddies but haven't had much affect in East Texan fields, probably because farmers there keep the water levels much lower.

Louisiana rice farmers might not be so lucky because many also raise crawfish in the fields so they keep the water level much higher.

"It may force a management change or pose a problem for those systems where they're managing for both rice and crawfish," Carter said.

Scientists have yet to discover a safe way to eradicate the snails without also destroying other species.

The snails lay clusters of bright pink eggs, up to 7000 at a time. Carter said if you notice an egg cluster, take a picture and email him with the eggs location at carterj@usgs.gov.

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