TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Another part of Southwest Florida was placed under quarantine in an effort to stop the spread of one of the most damaging snails in the world.

Giant African land snails, or “GALS” for short, have wreaked havoc across Pasco County since mid-2022. Now, some residents in Lee County are also experiencing the damaging effects of the invasive slimy species.

GALS can consume at least 500 different types of plants and be devastating to Florida’s agriculture, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Not only do the creatures possess a mighty appetite, “the snails also pose a serious health risk to humans by carrying the parasite rat lungworm, known to cause meningitis in humans,” the department wrote in an online quarantine advisory.

However, the latest quarantine efforts in Lee and Pasco counties were not the state’s first attempts at eradicating the species.

The giant African land snail has been eradicated from Florida twice already. The snail was first detected in 1969 and was later eradicated in 1975. In 2011, the snail was detected in Miami-Dade County and eventually eradicated in 2021.

Finally, on June 23, 2022, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) confirmed the detection of the giant African land snail in the New Port Richey area of Pasco County.

That same month, FDACS’s Division of Plant Industry began to survey the area and enacted a quarantine.

(Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services)

Officials said the populations previously eradicated in South Florida and the population in Lee County have dark brown shells with grayish-brown flesh. The snails detected in Pasco County have light to dark brown shells with milky white flesh (seen below).

(Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services)

To protect your property, FDACS reccommends Metaldehyde, a pesticide used to control snails and slugs. The treatment option is approved for use in a variety of vegetable and ornamental crops in the field or greenhouse, on fruit trees, small-fruit plants, in avocado and citrus orchards, berry plants, banana plants and in limited residential areas.

Property owners inside the treatment area will be notified in person or by posted notice at least 24 hours in advance of the planned pesticide treatment. For more information, click here.