Snails Moving Into Young Trees and Covers

Josh McGillFlorida, Pests

Some species of snails in Florida groves, normally seen on irrigation emitters and tree trunks, have recently “taken up residency in young citrus trees,” University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension agents Chris Oswalt and Ajia Paolillo reported.


Here’s a summary of what the agents wrote in a recent UF/IFAS Central Florida citrus Extension newsletter:

Once on the young citrus trees, the snails began to feed on the bark, causing significant damage. Eventually on some trees, the damage becomes significant to the point of tree death. Not all snails will be a problem, and even the problem snails may not cause consistent damage to young or mature citrus trees.

Snails have also been found in individual plant covers (IPCs). If you have a snail issue in your grove and utilize IPCs, monitor them for increasing snail populations. In some field observations, problematic snails have been found on weakened, dying or dead wood, along with foliage that is infected with citrus canker lesions.

Once the snails start feeding on wood and foliage, the wounds increase on the tree. Snails are great hitchhikers and can catch a ride to a new location in the block or to another block on vehicles, tractors, mowers, herbicide booms, etc. This enhances their rate of spread. Check vehicles and equipment for snails and remove them before moving between blocks.

If chemical treatment is needed, there are some products that have been found to be effective in decreasing the snail populations. UF/IFAS entomologist Lauren Diepenbrock has released data from her trials regarding these products to control Bulimulus sporadicus, a problematic snail that has been found in groves in the past few years. Her findings show that metaldehyde or iron bait products were the most effective in reducing populations.

Remember to always follow the product label instructions for rate and application information. Metaldehyde baits are highly toxic and should be used with caution around wildlife, animals and children.

Source: UF/IFAS

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