African Giant Snail menace worries coffee planters

African Giant Snails caught and filled in sacks at a plantation in Shanivarasanthe during the ‘Hidi Kollu’ (catch-and-kill) campaign last year. DH File Photo

Kodagu planters are a worried lot. They are battling the menace of the African Giant Snail which has infested their crop following heavy rain.

The African Giant Snail is seen on coffee plants, pepper vines, plantain trees, areca trees and also the ginger crop.

The pest is spread fast this rainy season and is found to be more active at night. The snails take shelter under dry leaves during the day time.

The giant snail is capable of spoiling over 500 varieties of plant species including papaya, rubber and cocoa.

Even though the average lifespan of the African Giant Snail is three to five years, it is found that some snails can live up to nine years, said experts.

This harmful species of snail was first spotted in Kodagu in 2014 in Bellaralli, Handli and nearby areas in Shanivarasanthe of Somwarpet taluk. During monsoons, they appear in plantations and spread rapidly.

The snail has to be picked by hand and killed. It is important to destroy the snails at the initial stages. 

Control measures

Experts of the Coffee Research Centre in Chettalli have asked farmers to take measures to rid their plantations of the snail menace. A piece of papaya tree trunk, a wet gunny bag or papaya leaves can be used as traps to attract the African Giant Snail.

A mixture of two kilos of Copper Sulphate and two kilos of tobacco extract dissolved in 50 litres of water, must be sprinkled on the snail.

If the snails are caught by hand, they should be buried in a pit and covered with limestone powder, experts added.

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