If You See These Strange Pink Eggs at the Waterside, Destroy Them Immediately

If You See These Strange Pink Eggs at the Waterside, Destroy Them Immediately

In the last two decades, the Gulf Coast has experienced an unwelcome invasion.

Nonindigenous apple snails, native to South America, have made nuisances of themselves in the freshwater ecosystems of Florida, Texas and Louisiana.

For that reason, wildlife officials in Louisiana in particular have encouraged the public to destroy the apple snails’ pink egg clusters — and to be careful while doing so.

In a video posted to YouTube last year, crawfish specialist Mark Shirley of the Louisiana State University AgCenter explained the origins of the state’s apple snails, how to spot their eggs and how to safely remove them.

“Apple snails is an invasive species that’s come into Louisiana in recent years and it’s actually causing a problem in some crawfish ponds,” Shirley said.

Indeed, according to a flyer printed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the apple snail first appeared in the state in 2006. The LDWF attributed the non-native species’ appearance to what it called “irresponsible aquarium releases.”

“If eaten raw, they can transmit a deadly parasite called rat lung worm to humans and other mammals,” the flyer read.

Furthermore, the highly invasive snail consumes enormous quantities of plant life, threatening native species’ natural habitats.

To make matters worse, the apple snail has “few predators in the United States,” according to an LDWF brochure.

Thus, Shirley asked the public to look out for the apple snails’ “pink egg masses” found on “culverts and on vegetation.”

Unfortunately, the eggs contain a toxin. Shirley, therefore, instructed viewers to avoid touching them with their bare hands.

“If you can, take a stick and just knock them in the water,” he said.

Shirley added that the snails crawl out of the water to lay eggs before falling back into the water. In the summertime, he said, they will do this “every one to two weeks.”

Clearly, therefore, getting the Louisiana apple snail population under control presents significant challenges.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Gulf Coast the situation appears more complex.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Sunshine State has one native apple snail species but also four exotic varieties — and each exotic species has a different name: “island apple snail, channeled apple snail, spike-topped apple snail, and the titan apple snail.”

The FWC identified the channeled and island varieties in particular as “opportunistic feeders.”

Indeed, according to one publication, the channeled apple snail ranks “as one of the 100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Species.”

Alas, the exotic snails appear poised to outbreed the native species. For comparison’s sake, the Florida apple snail’s “egg clutch” averages 20 to 80 eggs, but the island apple snail’s clutch can hold up to 2,000 eggs.

To further complicate matters, both species’ eggs are the same color, making them difficult to distinguish at first sight.

Human beings, of course, have an interest in controlling the populations of species that carry dangerous parasites or toxins.

Moreover, we also happen to bear the responsibility of earthly stewardship. And releasing exotic creatures into foreign habitats constitutes an irresponsible act.

In short, if you happen to see a cluster of pink eggs in Florida, make sure they do not belong to the native apple snail, then take a stick and knock them in the water.

And if you happen to see the same cluster of pink eggs in Louisiana, do not worry about counting the eggs. Take that stick and knock them in the water.

If you do, you might save an animal or even an unsuspecting human being from getting sick, or worse.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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