Snails: Small Wonder in China, Big Problem in Florida

December 1, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. eradicate / ɪˈræd ɪˌkeɪt / (v.) – to wipe out or destroy completely
Example: They hired someone to eradicate the rats in their city.

2. damage / ˈdæm ɪdʒ / (n.) – harm that decreases the value of something
Example: The damage caused by the fire costs around $10,000.

3. property / ˈprɒp ər ti / (n.) – land owned by someone
Example: Their family owns several properties in the city.

4. diet / ˈdaɪ ɪt / (n.) – the food regularly eaten by a person or an animal
Example: A panda’s diet is composed mainly of bamboo.

5. crop / krɒp / (n.) – plants grown for food
Example: Farmers grow different crops at the same time.


Read the text below.
Two different types of snails have recently caught the attention of the media.

The first is the new species of microsnails discovered by Dr. Barna Pall-Gergely of Japan’s Shinshu University and his colleagues. His friend, shell collector András Hunyadi, came upon the snails during a trip to China’s Guangxi [GWAHNG-SHEE] Province and decided to give them to him for further investigation.  

The other type is the giant African land snails (GALS) that reappeared in Miami, Florida in September 2011.  The GALS first appeared in the 1960s, but disappeared for a while until they were spotted again in 2011.

Since then, the GALS population has continued to increase and spread to different parts of Florida despite efforts to eradicate them. Considered as pests, the GALS have caused damage to properties in the state. In addition, they carry a disease-causing parasite that is harmful for both humans and animals.

The greatest differences between the two types of snails are their size, their diet, and where they live.

Whereas microsnails are the smallest land snails known to man, with each being less than an inch tall, GALS are among the largest snails in the world, with one capable of growing up to eight inches long.

In terms of diet, microsnails eat fungi and algae, while GALS feed on plants, including crops.

When it comes to their habitats, microsnails are commonly found in coral reefs, but they can also survive in caves or on rocks. On the other hand, GALS prefer areas with a tropical climate. GALS were originally from Africa, but they were brought to other parts of the world on purpose or by accident.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What are the possible reasons why Florida cannot get rid of the GALS?
·         In your opinion, how should Florida deal with its GALS problem?

Discussion B

·         What are some possible negative effects on the environment of eradicating pests?
·         What do you think are the advantages of discovering a new species?

December 1, 2015