Swollen bayous in Ascension Parish marked with signs of invasive Apple Snails
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The swollen bayous in Ascension Parish are marked with the signs of an invader.
The bright pink, bubblegum-esque blobs look more like something out of a sci-fi movie than would be found in the swamps of Louisiana.
“They’re a really bad invasive species,” said Robby Maxwell, an inland fisheries technical advisor for the state’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “They’re large, destructive pests. They cause environmental damage, they cause agriculture damage and they’re also a threat to human health.”
Maxwell said the pink, alien like spots are the eggs of Apple Snails, each pod contains around 900 eggs. The snails are an invasive species native to South America that has become rampant in the wetlands along the I-10 corridor. They first showed up in Jefferson Parish in 2006. Maxwell said they probably came from someone who had one of the snails in an aquarium and then dumped it in a bayou.
They now live under the water, devouring vegetation, dead fish, and carcasses of animals.
“They’re just kind of what you don’t want to see,” Maxwell said. “The worst part of every invasives species you see in them.”
He said the snails are likely here to stay as they have very few natural predators. The best thing to do, he said, is to knock the bright pink pods into the water, the eggs can only survive on dry land.
“Use a stick or a tool or some other implement,” he said. “Don’t use your hands because they do carry a neuro toxin that does irritate some people’s skin. It’s the reason they’re hot pink and nothing else eats them.”
If you do touch either the eggs or the snails, he said to quickly wash your hands.
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