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Florida once again has giant calamitous snails that spew parasitic brain worms

Mary Yong Cong, a Florida Department of Agriculture scientist, holds a giant African snail in her Miami lab on July 17, 2015.

Enlarge / Mary Yong Cong, a Florida Department of Agriculture scientist, holds a giant African snail in her Miami lab on July 17, 2015. (credit: Getty | Kerry Sheridan)

Officials in Florida are again battling a highly invasive, extraordinarily destructive giant snail species that also happens to be capable of spreading parasitic worms that invade human brains.

The giant African land snail (GALS)—aka Lissachatina fulica—can grow up to 20 centimeters (8 inches) long and is considered “one of the most invasive pests on the planet,” according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It ravenously feasts on over 500 plant species—including many valuable fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals—while prolifically spawning, pushing out several thousand eggs in its multiyear life span.

In late June, Florida state officials confirmed the presence of GALS on a property in Pasco County, on the west-central coast of the state, just north of Tampa. They have since set up a quarantine zone around the property and began snail-killing pesticide treatments last week.

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