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Update on Giant African Snail in Tobago

The Department of Agriculture has issued an advisory confirming the Giant African Snail to be present in six (6) locations in Tobago: Carnbee #2 Lamp post #57 and environs, Corner Calder Hall Road and Calder Hall Traffic lights east, Eboe Gully Les Coteaux, Felicity Heights Whim, Mt. Grace Flats and #1 Lambeau Auchenskeoch next to Belgroves Funeral Home.

This invasive snail consumes a vast range of plant species including vegetable crops, leguminous crops, fruit trees, root crops, forest trees and ornamentals.  If the population increases beyond control; it can also become a public nuisance which can affect our tourism product. This pest is also a vector of the rat lung worm that causes eosinophilic meningitis in humans.

To prevent the spread of this destructive pest throughout Tobago all members of the public are strongly advised to refrain from moving potted plants; other planting materials, soil, mulch, grass clippings, compost, manure and general back yard refuse and discarded materials that can harbor snails from the infested areas listed above. All garbage should be retained and incinerated in the infested areas.

Persons living in close proximity of the infested areas should be on the lookout for this pest in and around their premises. Residents are further advised to place methaldehyde bait under their vehicles at night to prevent “hitchhiking” snails from moving to pest free areas.

The Department of Agriculture has been engaged in rigorous detection and eradication exercises to contain and eliminate this pest. In an effort to prevent new introductions of this pest; members of the public are asked to be vigilant when travelling between Trinidad and Tobago with your vehicles. Travelers should check their vehicles for “hitchhiking” snails that may have attached themselves to the undercarriage, wheel hubs and trays prior to returning to Tobago.  Bait can be placed around or under the vehicle the night prior to returning to Tobago. This bait can be obtained from most agroshops, and should contain the active ingredient: Methaldehyde.   When purchasing plants in Trinidad it is recommended that you spray the plants, the potting soil and the underside of pots and crates with a pesticide prior to returning to Tobago. The pesticides used should contain the active ingredient: Thiodicarb

The snail can be identified by its shell which is reddish brown in colour with cream longitudinal stripes and six (6) or more whorls or segments of the shell. If you see the snail, collect with gloved/covered hands and drown in a bleach solution (2 cups bleach to 1 gallon of water) or salt solution (2 cups salt to 1 gallon of water) in a closed container for 24 hours, and contact the Plant Protection Hotline at 482-7528/639-4616 as soon as possible for confirmation and follow up measures.

This is a situation where EVERYONE must get involved in order to prevent the spread of this pest to other areas, and prevent additional import of the pest to the island.