Understanding the ecology of pest snails

This project will utilise current technology to study the ecology of pest snails to overcome the knowledge gap limiting effective snail control. This will assist land managers to reduce the magnitude of baiting, burning and cultivation activities, which will subsequently lower the risk of soil erosion.

What is being done?

Snails are a major pest in the Northern and Yorke region. Each year, thousands of hectares are burnt and cultivated, with the aim of reducing snail populations. This loss in soil cover, and that derived from direct grazing impacts from snails, results in a significant increase in the risk of soil erosion. Maintaining adequate soil cover for prevention of erosion in snail infested areas is extremely difficult, time consuming and expensive.

The need for greater understanding of snail movement and reproductive cycles has been identified following an eruption in numbers in 2011. Controlling snails before egg laying is critical, as each snails can lay 400 eggs in a season. In 2011, snails were observed to be laying eggs in mid to late March, which contradicts previous knowledge that egg laying does not occur until May. Awareness of the level of snail activity is critical in predicting mating and egg laying events to determine the appropriate timing of control activities.