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Garden Snail Invasion Threatening Crops

August 23, 1985

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Escargots are making a comeback in San Diego County, but they’re not at all appetizing to farmers who fear the worst snail invasion since 1918 will ruin crops and cause millions of dollars in damage.

Tiny white garden snails, generally found in Europe, have been spotted in three parts of the county and agriculture officials say they appear to be spreading through flood-control channels.

″It’s not encouraging,″ county Agricultural Commissioner Kathleen Thuner said Thursday after snails were discovered in El Cajon, east of San Diego.

The snails were first found Aug. 6 in southeast San Diego and have also been discovered in Santee, east of the city.

Smaller groups of snails were found between the three spots near flood control channels, Thuner said, adding that the mollusks may be traveling down the San Diego River.

Agriculture officials are concerned about the pests because they eat away at citrus and avocado crops, as well as ornamental plants. When snails invaded the county in 1918, they caused millions of dollars in damage in La Jolla and had to be eradicated with flame throwers.

County agriculture officials were to meet today with specialists to discuss the problem and come up with possible solutions. County employees will be sent throughout the county next week to search for the pests, Thuner said.

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