"Giant Snail Invasion Hits South Florida. Gooey Mess"

"Giant snail invasion puts more than 500 plant species and even stucco and plaster at risk. More than 1,000 giant African land snails caught each week in Miami and invasion expected to spread in upcoming rainy season."

"ORLANDO, Fla. -- South Florida is fighting a growing infestation of one of the world's most destructive invasive species: the giant African land snail, which can grow as big as a rat and gnaw through stucco and plaster.

More than 1,000 of the mollusks are being caught each week in Miami-Dade and 117,000 in total since the first snail was spotted by a homeowner in September 2011, said Denise Feiber, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Residents will soon likely begin encountering them more often, crunching them underfoot as the snails emerge from underground hibernation at the start of the state's rainy season in just seven weeks, Feiber said."

Barbara Liston reports for Reuters April 14, 2013.

Source: Reuters, 04/15/2013