Attack of the Alien Invaders, National Geographic Magazine: Hawaiian Taro Farm Family

Mother and baby watching family work in field

A family works in their taro patch on the island of Maui. Their crop is being devastated by the impact of the invasive apple snail eating the tender stems of the plant which is a staple among native Hawaiians.

A native of South America, the Channeled Apple Snail (Pomacea canaliculata) was introduced to Taiwan, the Philippines, and other countries in Southeast Asia in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a food item. The culinary demand for the species did not materialize and it was not long before the apple snail escaped captivity and spread, decimating rice fields of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines.

The species was introduced in Hawaii in 1989 where it damages taro (elephant ear) and rice crops. The apple snail is listed on the world’s top 100 worst invasive aliens.

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