Solomon Star

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Feb. 3, 2010) - Farmers in the Solomon Islands have every reason to be worried about the Giant African snails.

They felt the Quarantine Department has lost the battle against this invasive pest.

Now the snails seem to be everywhere around town. A couple of the big snails were found in the Chinatown area this week laying eggs.

When the snails were first discovered around town a couple of years back, the Quarantine Department went on the offensive.

But it seems the campaign fails to completely eradicate the pest because they are resurfacing again.

It’s believed the pest hasn’t moved further from Honiara, apart from sightings at Foxwood on the Guadalcanal plains.

The challenge for Quarantine officials is to contain the snails from spreading further.

Here’s how the African giant snail looks.

They are much larger than native snails.

Its shell ranges in size from 5-10cam, but can measure up to 30cm and weigh 1 kg.

The shell is conical, tapering to a point as compared to a number of native snail species whose shells are mostly globular.

The colour of the shell can vary, but is commonly brown with pale cream streaks.

Their eggs are laid in batches of 100-400 and are spherical to oval in shape, approximately 5 mm in diameter and cream to yellow in colour.

Giant African snails are usually active at night, emerging at dusk to feed in the open then returning to shelter at dawn. On wet days they will remain active during daylight.

They are commonly found under leaf litter, old roofing iron and timber, compost heaps, thickly grown ornamental shrubs and in crevices between rocks and tree roots.

At night they will often be found on barriers such as fences and house walls.

Giant African snails usually feed on decomposing vegetation.

However, when introduced to a new environment they will feed on a wide range of plants, including cocoa, rubber, banana, papaw, citrus, sweet potato, cassava, most vegetables, legumes and ornamentals.

They will also consume fallen fruit, garbage, human and animal excreta - and even the bodies and shells of other giant African snails.

The snail is distinct from native species and easily identifiable.

In light of latest discoveries, Quarantine must reactivate its campaign to get rid of the pest.

Because if we allow them to populate, we might as well bid farewell to our food and other cash crops.

These snails are dangerous and are real risk to our food security.

The fight to eradicate them must go on until we know for sure they’ve gone.

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