University of California

Studies on control of the giant African snail on Guam


George D. Peterson

Author Affiliations

George D. Peterson, Jr. was Assistant Agriculturist in the Extension Service, El Centro, California. (Formerly staff entomologist for the Guam Department of Agriculture from April, 1951, to May, 1955.).

Publication Information

Hilgardia 26(16):643-658. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v26n16p643. July 1957.

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The giant African snail, Achathia fulica Bowdich, is endemic to the coastal area of continental East Africa. The species occurs from southern Abyssinia and the southern half of Italian Somaliland, through Kenya and Tanganyika, to northern Portuguese East Africa. The snail’s ancestral homeland also probably includes certain of the small islands lying off the East African Coast, including Zanzibar and Pemba, where it is now found. Most probably, it was early transported by man to Madagascar. Its later introduction, usually deliberately, by man to Mauritius, Reunion, southern Asia, and the Pacific is a matter of historic record. The snail is now known from the Seychelles, Comores, India, Ceylon, Malaspia, Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Siam, Indo-China, China, Formosa, Japan, the Philippines, New Guinea, Micronesia, the Ryukyus, the Bonins, and Hawaii.

The damage done by snails to crops and ornamental plants wherever they have been introduced has run into millions of dollars. Not only are the snails voracious feeders, they are also capable of extremely rapid reproduction under favorable conditions. Due to their ability to survive even protracted ocean voyages as unsuspected stowaways in war salvage, scrap metal, plant produce, and other materials, there is a very real chance that they may be introduced into continental United States from almost any point in the Pacific. Indeed, the snails have reached California Several times, but alert plant quarantine action resulted in their immediate destruction. We need, therefore, to know as much as possible about their control in other areas in the event they become established here.

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Peterson G. 1957. Studies on control of the giant African snail on Guam. Hilgardia 26(16):643-658. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v26n16p643
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