The Suncoast Conchologists Club, whose logo is the Florida State shell the Fighting Conch, held its monthly meeting on Tuesday, January 5th. This is a truly amicable group of educated individuals sure to “warm the cockles of your heart,” who provide educational programs, field trips and shell shows throughout the Club year. Members bring in specimens from their own shelling adventures to discuss with the group, and a lending library on shells is available free to all members.
On Tuesday night Tina Murders presented an informative program titled “From Shore to Shore: A Snail Mystery,” which explained how various land and marine shells have accidentally invaded Florida from other countries. The most interesting shell she discussed was the Cuban Land Snail, the “Zachrysia Provisoria”. This Cuban species was first imported into Florida by a Charles T. Simpson, hoping to harvest this medium sized shell as a food product. The Cuban Snails did not catch on as a delicacy, but did love our Florida climate. Lionel Stange, of the University of Florida Extension Service, explained that, “Global warming is responsible for this and other species moving north of their original habitats.”
These snails have completely taken over some yards, in our area, eating several varieties of plants and flowers. They should not be confused with the Apple Tree Snail that has a brown foot, and eats only greenery. The Cuban Snail is a larger snail with a strongly ribbed shell sculpture. It eats flowering plants as well as many types of the greenery in this area. In Florida this snail has been found in Broward, Collier, Dade, Hillsborough, Monroe, Palm Beach and Pinellas counties.
Many of the potted plants purchased in our local landscape stores harbor these nuisance snails. Once in your yard, Dr. Stange explains, “It lives among leaf litter and among ornamental plantings.” Regular snail bait does not work and the only thing that does work, a metal based poison, cannot be found at home and garden stores. Numerous calls placed to the Florida Bureau of Entomology were not returned so no information is readily available to eradicate this problem. The best advice, for those that feel they have Cuban Snails in their yard, is to call a landscape pesticide professional.
Thought you might enjoy a recipe for escargot, but felt this discussion of the intrusive Cuban Snail might leave one yearning for a recipe using another mollusk. Luckily, Heilman’s Restaurant on Clearwater Beach was happy to share their popular recipe for griddled sea scallops.
Griddled Sea Scallops with Tequila and Lime Butter
Lightly flour scallops (app. 1 lb.), then pan sear in butter. Deglaze
the pan with tequila. Remove from pan. In same pan mix
1 T. butter
Juice from whole lime
Zest from whole lime
1 ½ oz. quality tequila
Salt and pepper to taste
Add scallops back to pan and sauté until warm
The next meeting of the Suncoast conchologists Club will be February 1st at the Piano Company on Hercules Avenue. Peggy Williams will be there to speak on “Shelling in South Africa.” For those who enjoy learning more about shelling on our world-renowned local beaches, this is the club to join. Membership is only 10 Clams (or dollars,) but guests are welcome to attend without shelling out a thing. For more information feel free to call Roni Mucci at 787-4969.
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