African snails thrive on waste, weeds

Scientists at KAU conduct spot analysis.

Thrissur: Scientists at the Kerala Agriculture University have started looking into the increasing giant African snail menace in urban housing colonies, especially those adjacent to railway stations.

They conducted spot analysis of the situation in and around Thrissur, especially densely populated Punkunnam. Dr Madhu Subrahmaniam, an entomologist from College of Horticulture, Vellanikkara, who led the team, said proper management of waste and weeds is imperative to ward off the threat growing beyond control. In his report, he confirmed the presence of a sizeable population of Achatina fullica, a pest of vegetables and other plants, that could be ascertained visually in most compounds.

They identify the primary cause as the decaying plant debris in the form of fallen leaves and coconut fronds among others heaped in the remote corner of most households, which provide hiding places for the snails during the daytime.

The dense vegetation along the railway tracks heaped urban waste and bordering sewage drains also provide a favourable habitat for their multiplication.

The short-term measures initiated by the corporation would yield temporary relief, but long-term initiatives are unavoidable to achieve a permanent solution, they said on Saturday.

They insist keeping the compounds free of unwanted vegetation, disposal of fallen leaves and fronds among others through suitable means, along with clearing the premises of unwanted debris like construction leftovers and effective measures for prevention of waste dumping in heaps.

The team advised immediate removal of heaped decaying organic matter, collection and destruction of different stages of snails by spreading moist gunny bags in the compounds in the evening would be effective.

The snails that aggregate beneath bags can be collected and destroyed next morning. Application of lime/common salt in and around the compounds is another low-cost solution to control the menace, the scientists said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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