Louisiana crawfish producers have not had the best of times in recent times. The pandemic quashed a lot of crawfish sales both this year and last year. The weather is always a concern when it comes to raising and harvesting quality mudbugs too. Now, it looks as if the latest threat to the state's multi-million dollar crawfish industry has shown up in the form of a snail.

What is an Apple Snail?

The Apple  Snail earned its moniker because of its appearance. The species grows to be about the size of an apple. Their eggs are pink in color. Many would describe the eggs as looking like bubble gum. The eggs can also release a toxin that can be quite irritating to human skin. But, that's not the irritation crawfish farmers are concerned about.

Where have the snails been discovered?

Crawfish producers in six parishes in Louisiana, Lafayette, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jeff Davis, Vermilion, and St. James, have all reported finding Apple Snail egg masses in their crawfish traps in recent weeks. The snails and their eggs can not only be a nuisance by gumming up traps and slowing production but they can be real economic threat as well.

What threat do the snails pose?

Some producers say the effects of Apple Snail populations in their ponds has cut production for those by as much as 50%. The dead snail carcasses have to be cleaned out of traps which takes time. And, the snails themselves eat a lot of the bait that was intended to attract crawfish into the traps.

What should producers do if they discover Apple Snails in their ponds?

Experts with the LSU AgCenter suggest that producers who discover infestations of the snails in their ponds are advised to not move equipment or boats from that infested pond to another body of water. This could only increase and enhance the spread of this particular invasive species.

How did the snails get into Louisiana's crawfish ponds?

AgCenter experts believe the snails came to Louisiana ponds in a very innocent manner. They believe that most of the snails were purchased for home aquariums. When the snails grew too large, they were dumped into the wild. Evidently, the crawfish-producing areas of the state have environmental conditions that are favorable for snail development. That's probably why you don't see the creatures causing issues everywhere.

So, the next time you're complaining about the price of crawfish, just know how hard it can be and all the obstacles that must be conquered by Louisiana's crawfishing families to bring those 'bugs to your platter. Nobody works harder if you ask me. And if you're new to crawfish and crawfish boils, let us help you out with that.

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