Invasive snails threatening Louisiana's crawfish population
BATON ROUGE - The thing that has the potential to wipe out the crawfish industry in Louisiana was once a staple in home aquariums.
The apple snail is an invasive species that has taken over parts of the state. Researchers at the LSU Ag Center have been studying the snail's effects on crawfish farms, and they are worried.
"The number of farms that are currently infested is low, but the impact of those infestations is very large," assistant professor Blake Wilson said.
In Jefferson Davis and Vermilion parish, farmers have had to drain their ponds due to the overwhelming amount of snails.
"The snails are in more abundance even than crawfish, and they're clogging up traps and really slowing down the operation," said Wilson.
JB Hanks is a crawfish farmer in St. Landry parish. His farm covers 3000 acres.
"Everybody is concerned with anything that's invasive," Hanks said.
Hanks said he became aware of the apple snail problem about five years ago. So far, he hasn't seen any on his farm, but he's growing concerned.
"It's migrating further and further up river systems now. So it's got us a little nervous about what's going to happen with the apple snail," he said.
Though most of the infestation is happening in the southwest part of the state, it will likely spread if nothing is done to contain it.
"Certainly if the whole industry becomes infested, that would be very damaging to the crawfish production," Wilson said.
Wilson and others are trying out potential solutions, including certain pesticides, but don't have anything available yet.