Snail Management: What Works

Tacy CalliesPests, Tip of the Week

snail
Snails on irrigation jet

By Lauren Diepenbrock

In the past few years, several citrus growers have been impacted by yet another non-native pest in their groves. This time it is not an insect or mite; it’s a snail. Bulimulus sporadicus is a relatively new pest to Florida, first found in Duval County in 2009. It has quickly moved throughout much of the state, causing problems in various cropping systems and in suburban habitats.

In citrus, these snails appear to cause two primary problems: clogging irrigation jets and foliage damage inside individual protective covers (IPCs).

These snails are a unique pest from a management standpoint. Like many newer pests, we do not fully understand the biology of them, which makes it difficult to design management that takes advantage of key life stages.

Snails are also uniquely adapted to persist in harsh conditions. They are capable of completely sealing themselves off from their surrounding environment by closing off the entrance to their shells.

Many of the commonly used agrochemicals for insect and mite management have little to no effect on many species of snails, including Bulimulus sporadicus.

In a laboratory study, University of Florida scientists evaluated chemical control options for Bulimulus sporadicus. These options included all materials registered for use on snails (mollusks) in citrus in Florida. Baits containing metaldehyde or iron worked best for attracting and killing snails (see table below).

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In addition to materials currently registered, we also tested materials of interest by growers who are trying to reduce snail populations in their groves.

Lauren Diepenbrock is an assistant professor at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.

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