Apple snails continue to be problem in Southwest Louisiana

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 12:23 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - A non-native invasive species continues to be a growing problem in Southwest Louisiana.

Apple snails can overpopulate and steal resources away from native species, consuming large quantities of plant materials and damaging important habitats for native fish and wildlife.

Southwest Louisiana’s crawfish fields are the perfect feeding area for apple snails. The flooded fields most generally have a lot of aquatic vegetation in them, which the apple snails are attracted to.

Robert Dobbs, Nongame Ornithologist for the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, says that isn’t the only problem for crawfish farmers. They have to worry about the snails also clogging the traps.

“One of the biggest problems with crawfish farmers to date is that fields can be infested with them, they can eat the food, and clog up the traps, which reduces capture rates,” Dobbs said.

However, there may be a new species in the area that can help with the extreme infestation of apple snails.

Dobbs says that limpkins, a bird that settles in wetlands, like Florida, started making their way to Louisiana in 2017.

A very high percentage of a limpkin’s diet contains apple snails. They have a modification on their bill that helps them remove the muscle from the apple snail shell.

Dobbs says that as apple snails continue to migrate, limpkins will as well.

“With the continued expansion and proliferation of the snail population, and they’re also moving west, they’re in Calcasieu Parish, we anticipate that the limpkins will follow.”

Dobbs added that the growth in Limpkins is great, but they’ve only been in Louisiana for a small amount of time, and it will take some time to notice a difference.

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