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Look out for dormant snails

Heading in to autumn, producers should be aware of potential hitch-hiking pests when buying in fodder, especially from interstate.

Snails such as the Common White Snail (Cernuella virgata) can be in a temporary stage of dormancy over summer after being harvested along with the grain crop – and they can be hard to detect until after feed grain is fed out to livestock in the paddock, said Riverina Local Land Services Senior Land Services Officer Lisa Castleman.

“Snails don’t like the heat or dry weather at harvest time so they escape high ground temperatures by climbing up the stems of the crop or pasture plants and can then be harvested or baled up within hay,” Ms Castleman said.

“The Small Conical Snail (Prietocella barbara)can easily go undetected in cereal or pasture hay.”

“Snails can show reasonable survival in stored grain or hay over summer. They may appear dead as they hide within the shell. Unless you crush the shell you can’t actually be sure whether they’re alive or not. They can dry down and lose weight, but reappear during rain when they take the opportunity to hydrate.”

Ms Castleman said that for delivery of milling grain or oilseeds to silos snails are a contaminant and specific delivery limits apply. Feed grade grains including feed barley and feed wheat stored on-farm and then sold privately may contain undocumented risks.

“Ask the seller if snails are an issue in their region before buying stockfeed. It's also best to identify any snail pest quickly before a population has a chance to establish on your farm. Don’t assume they won’t adapt to the climate and the soils across the Riverina, they can adapt quite well. Snails feed on organic matter and the soils in our region also have quite reasonable levels of calcium, which they require” Ms Castleman said.

Ms Castleman said snails can be eradicated when detected early enough but control requires an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach. Snails can even survive the seed treatment of grain, as only a molluscicide will kill them.

“If you think you might have a snail problem please contact us immediately for advice and support.

For more information on snail pests in feed grains or hay please contact Lisa Castleman on 0427 201 963.

ENDS

Media contact: Simone Norrie – Riverina Local Land Services – 0419 648 813