Update on Snail Management in Citrus

Josh McGill Pests, Tip of the Week

By Lauren Diepenbrock

Snail management is becoming a more common discussion in Florida citrus with the arrival of a newer species (Bulimulus bonariensis, previously referred to as Bulimulus sporadicus, Figure 1) in the Southeast. This snail is a new challenge for citrus growers. With funding from the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is developing the knowledge to provide management recommendations to mitigate the impact of this pest.

Snail management
Figure 1. Multiple sizes of Bulimulus bonariensis were collected on April 27, 2023.
(Photos by L. Diepenbrock)

The first emergence of newly hatched snails was seen in Florida in late April through early May. The smallest recovered snail was only 3 millimeters in diameter (Figure 2). These small young snails are hard to detect. It is likely that populations of snails go undetected for several generations due to the small size of the younger life stages. Until snails are larger, or the population is high enough to begin clogging irrigation, they are easy to miss in fields.

Snail management
Figure 2. Two smaller snails recovered from scouting on April 27, 2023.

Snail management research is in the early stages for this pest. At present, there are six baits and one liquid molluscicide registered for use on snails in Florida citrus: Deadline GT, Deadline M-Ps, IronFist, Ferroxx, Ferroxx AQ, Sluggo (baits) and Slug-Fest (liquid). In a laboratory study, all baits were found to be effective in killing B. bonariensis within a seven-day period. Field evaluations are just now beginning for these materials.

Snails can clog irrigation systems.

Molluscicides can provide short-term relief, but finding a predator is often key to long-term snail and slug management. Nicole Quinn, an expert in biological control, has joined the UF/IFAS team to search for naturally occurring predators that can be supported in groves to help control snail populations. Additionally, BASF is looking for naturally occurring populations of a predatory nematode that is used in Europe for snail and slug management and may be a tool for managing B. bonariensis.

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

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