Island apple snails are not native to Florida. A permit from the United States Department of Agriculture is required for the importation and interstate transport of island apple snails.
The island apple snail is characterized by a globular, spiraled shell that can reach up to 155 mm (6 in) in length. Most individuals have round, spiral shells with brown bands varying in color from yellow, black, tan, and brown. Island applesnails prefer slow-moving freshwater and can be found in lakes, rivers, streams, ditches, and ponds.
Island apple snails reach sexual maturity at approximately two to three months of age. Females lay egg clusters of up to 2000 eggs that are bright pink masses on emergent vegetation, turning white/grey before hatching.
Island apple snails feed on a variety of aquatic vegetation including fruits and vegetables, algae, remains of decaying organisms, and other snail eggs.
This species is native to South America, with the populations in Florida being genetically like those from the Rio Uruguay in Argentina.
The species was first introduced in Florida through the aquarium trade in 1989 in Palm Beach County and has since become established throughout most of the state. There are populations from Miami-Dade County to as far northeast as Nassau County, and as far west as Okaloosa County. See where the species has been reported in Florida.
Island apple snails are known agricultural pests that feed on rice crops and may cause substantial economic damage. Further concerns include habitat alteration and ecosystem shifts that may directly impact the native Florida apple snail.