Vocablets in the News: They’re Slow, They’re Slimy, and They’ll Eat Your House

What’s the story behind the snippet?  Let’s dive deeper and see what’s really going on.

The Word:

Snails?  A menace?  But they seem so harmless!

How could something that doesn’t even have limbs or teeth possibly be a threat?

The Story:

Miami Invaded By Giant, House-Eating Snails (NPR, 17 Sept 2011)

These aren’t the ordinary snails you find in your garden or stuck to the sidewalk after a heavy rain.  These are Giant African Land Snails, which grow to an incredible ten inches long.

The animals are restricted in the United States, but people often smuggle them into the country in their pockets as unusual novelty pets.

The environment here isn’t designed to handle them, so they multiply rapidly, threatening local species of plants and animals and disrupting the ecosystem.

Hey, is that stucco? Looks tasty...

Why It Matters:

The snails aren’t just huge versions of your everyday garden snail, however.  They carry rat-lung worm, which can transmit meningitis to humans.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the snails will also latch onto the stucco on the side of houses and eat through it like huge, slimy termites.

An introduction in 1965 took ten years and a million dollars to clear out the seventeen thousand snails that had invaded the area.

Making It Memorable:

Another type of non-native menace is kudzu, a vine from China and Japan that has been growing at an alarming rate in the southeastern United States.  What are some other examples of non-native species wreaking havoc on local ecosystems?

Want to study all the hidden words linked in this post?  Go to the Snails: blog VitN studylist on VocabNetwork!

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