Wine Industry Newsletter

Growers to be on the look out for snail pest

Green snail, Cornu apertus (syn. Cantareus apertus, Helix aperta) is a serious pest and has the potential to cause crop losses, mainly in leafy vegetables, cereal crops, pasture grasses and native plants. It can also become a major nuisance pest in agricultural settings as they can breed very quickly, with up to 1000 young snails found per square metre.

Green snail (Cantareus apertus) (©2022 DPIRD)
Green snail (©2022 DPIRD)

Green snail is native to Southern Europe and North Africa and has been established in the Perth metropolitan area since the 1980s. Green snail is a declared pest under section 22 of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007, and landholders are required to report and control the pest on their properties.

Mature green snails have an olive-green shell and white flesh, sometimes with a darker coloured foot. They are intermediate in size; between the smaller vineyard snail and white Italian snail, and the larger common brown garden snail.

Common garden snail (left), green snail (middle) and white Italian snail (right) (©2022 DPIRD)
Common garden snail (left), green snail (middle) and white Italian snail (right) (©2022 DPIRD)

The damage caused by green snail is similar to that of the common garden snail – young snails feeding on surfaces of leaves often only penetrate shallowly leaving a 'windowpane effect’, while older snails eat holes in the leaves and may reduce them to veins only.

During the dry summer months (November–March) the snails burrow underground and lie in a dormant state. Following autumn and winter rains the snails become active, with eggs laid in the soil from May–August and young snails appearing in early winter.

Reducing the spread of green snail will help to protect Western Australia’s agricultural industries.

Because snails are proficient hitchhikers:

  • Avoid moving snails from infested to clean areas on farm machinery and vehicles
  • clean and remove snails from harvest bins
  • avoid moving soil, plants and plant material from infested areas to uninfested areas without close inspection to remove any snails.

Confirmed distribution sites in Western Australia include the Perth Metropolitan area, Dunsborough, Capel, Albany and Esperance, with a newly confirmed detection in Kendenup, in the Great Southern wine region. More information can be found on the webpage Green Snail: declared pest.

It is important that suspect infestations are reported. Early detection and reporting of this pest will help protect Western Australian horticultural and agricultural industries.

If you suspect green snail, please contact the Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS) on 1800 084 881 or go to the MyPestGuide™ web pages to download the free MyPestGuide™ Reporter app, or make a MyPestGuide™ online report.