Giant apple snail could threaten rice crops in Louisiana.
Giant apple snail could threaten rice crops in Louisiana.

An invasive pest introduced from South America could wreak havoc on western Louisiana’s rice crops if the pest is able to migrate there, officials say.

The Giant Apple Snail was brought to the United States after people thought they would be good aquatic pets. However, several escaped and now are eating aquatic plants in southern Louisiana.

The snails live in fresh water and can grow to be as large as a person’s fist.

"They're considered one of the worst invasive species in the world," Jacoby Carter with the US Geological Survey told WBRZ. "They are in the top 100 list of bad invasive species," he added.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many good options to controlling the snails. One chemical option also wipes out many beneficial organisms.

The snails have been problematic in rice fields in Asia, but they haven’t been a huge problem in East Texas fields because they keep their water levels lower than Louisiana rice farmers, who also use their water to raise crawfish.

Anyone who finds the clusters of bright pink eggs that the snails lay is encouraged to contact the U.S. Geological Survey.