(WGHP) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission announced on Monday that Apple Snails in North Carolina.

The harmful invasive aquatic species was identified along the Lumber River in Lumberton

Native to South America, this is the first known population of Apple Snails in North Carolina. Globally, Apple Snails are a problematic invasive species and have been introduced in Europe, Asia and multiple states within the U.S. 

  • Apple Snail (N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission)
  • Apple Snail (N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission)

Someone sent pictures of suspected Apple Snail egg clusters to the NCWRC. An NCWRC biologist inspected multiple sites along the Lumber River and collected additional egg masses for submission to the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, which confirmed the identification of Apple Snail eggs.

Adult snails and eggs were then found near the I-95 bridge crossing of the Lumber River, at the High Hill Boating Access Area and in Fivemile Branch, which is a tributary to the Lumber River. 

Apple Snail grazing habits can damage plants used by many native aquatic species, and they have even been seen feeding on amphibian eggs.

Apple Snails can also present human health risks. They may carry rat lungworm, which can cause a potentially fatal disease in humans if the snails are eaten raw or undercooked. The snail’s egg masses also contain a toxin that can cause skin and eye rashes.   

Apple Snails are most easily recognizable by their distinctive large, bright pink egg clusters, which are laid on solid surfaces like tree trucks, concrete or other vegetation above the waterline along the edges of streams, rivers or ponds.

When the eggs hatch, the young snails drop into the water and grow into fully aquatic adults, reaching two to six inches in size, which is much larger than any of our native aquatic snails in NC.

Female snails lay eggs as often as once a week, which allows populations to grow and spread rapidly once established.   

Because of their destructive impact, it is unlawful to transport, purchase, possess, sell or stock Apple Snails in NC.

You are asked to report a suspected Apple Snail or an egg mass online with the Aquatic Nuisance Species Reporting Tool and include a picture and the location of where they were found.

After documenting the location, egg masses can be destroyed by crushing them and scraping them into the water with any implement such as a stick or a boat paddle, making sure the eggs sink, while avoiding touching them with bare skin.

More from FOX8

North Carolina News

See the latest North Carolina news

Adult snails can be destroyed by crushing or freezing.     

To prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species NCWRC offers the following guidance:  

  • Clean equipment of all aquatic plants, animals and mud.  
  • Drain water from boats, live wells, bait buckets and all equipment.  
  • Dry all equipment thoroughly  
  • Never Move fish, plants or other organisms from one body of water to another.  

Visit NCWRC’s aquatic nuisance species webpage for more information on apple snails.