adaptive-background

Golden apple snail

Preferred Scientific Name: Pomacea canaliculata

The golden apple snail is a freshwater snail which is native to parts of Argentina and Uruguay. It was originally introduced across Asia as a food source, but has since spread rapidly through canals and rivers. The snail feeds on aquatic plants and has been devastating rice crops in the area.

Golden apple snail
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Why is it a problem?

Golden apple snails are listed among the world’s 100 worst invasive species (Lowe et al, 2000). This is because of the devastating effect they have on biodiversity in affected areas, as well as the impact it has on rice crops and therefore the livelihoods of those who depend on rice crops for food and income.

It is also noted that the invasive snail is an important vector for various parasites, such as the nematode Angiostrongyulus cantonensis, which has been linked to the cause of human eosinophilic meningitis (Lv et al, 2011; Yang et al, 2013). This brings to light a serious human health risk in infested areas. 

Impacts

  • Devastates rice crops
  • Vector for parasites that are linked to meningitis
  • Reduces native biodiversity
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods

What’s the solution?

Prevention

Eradication of invasive snails is generally extremely difficult (Cowie, 2011) and therefore emphasis is put on prevention of spread. Quarantine restrictions have been adopted and officials often end up mistaking native snails for golden apple snail. 

Eradication

Snails can be manually removed as an eradication method, although this is rarely effective. Therefore smallholder farmers in infested areas have adopted methods such as burning or planting other non-rice crops in the off seasons to try and reduce the number of snails. 

Fact file

Name Golden apple snail

Distribution

South-east Asia, North America & Europe

For more information on distribution, view the full datasheet available here

Habitat

Freshwater wetlands 

Natural enemies

Various predators in non-native range. Fire ants are the only natural enemy that attack eggs and juveniles and would be used as a biocontrol agent if they weren’t invasive themselves 

Invasiveness

Spreads rapidly 

Likelihood of entry

Either introduced deliberately as a source of food or accidentally spread through freshwater systems

Climate

Tropical/ warm 

Further reading

Visit our online resource of research and full text articles and journals
Invasive Species Compendium

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