Pulloopram: With the onset of rains again after a lull, African snails are back to haunt the people of Angadi panchayat here in Pathanamthitta district. Armies of African snails could be found in Pulloopram, Poovanmala and Varavoor areas of the panchayat.
The biggest land snails will hide under soil and garbage during day and will come out after sunset. They feed on crops and even posters pasted on walls. The snails can also be found on walls during day time but after nightfall they can be found everywhere creating umpteen problems for the residents. Usually the creepy creatures hide under the soil after they feed on their prey.
Hundreds of snails could be found crawling in rubber estates where tapping work is not carried out.
The African snails were first sighted at Angadi panchayat four years ago, and their menace is more during rainy seasons. Though residents are taking measures to destroy this rapidly proliferating species, there is no respite from them.
Though the panchayat had set aside Rs 1 lakh in its annual budget outlay to annihilate them, the fund is not utilised effectively. The agricultural officer has the responsibility to execute the eradication programme but it is alleged that the officials concerned are least bothered about doing the requisite work.
The African snails, which are bigger than the normal snails, can destroy agricultural crops, and an injury caused by snail shell can take time to heal. The snails can also adversely affect the cultivation of spinach, ginger, yam, arbi, long beans, ladies finger and bananas.
Antidote to menace
Though there is a respite from the menace by sprinkling salt or tobacco water over the snails, the efforts to eradicate the snails are yet to achieve desired results.
It has been found tobacco-copper sulphate mixture is the best bet against the shelled gastropod. Snails can be destroyed by sprinkling a mixture of tobacco and copper sulphate. About 25 grams of tobacco should be boiled in one-and-a-half litres of water for 10 minutes or 25 grams of tobacco in 1 litre of water should be kept overnight. At least 60 grams of copper sulphate should be mixed in 1 litre of water. Both the solutions should be mixed properly and sprinkled on the snails.
Cabbage leaves and tapioca sticks could be kept over moist gunny bags to attract the snails and later they could be destroyed.
Dos and don’ts
Don’t touch snails without proper gloves. Stay away from snail secretions.