Hey Louisianans, please don't eat the apple snails

There's a funny meme about Louisiana's approach to invasive species that periodically floats across my social media feeds. While I currently live in Arizona, I grew up in Louisiana, and this meme definitely rings true. I mean, Louisianians eat pretty much anything and can figure out a way to make it all taste great — we eat frog legs and alligator and boudin and crawfish — yum! Louisiana chefs also have recently begun trying to figure out how to create delicious dishes from nutria, the invasive species also known as "swamp rats." So far, you don't see nutria on very many menus, although maybe it's just a matter of time before we're all chowing down on that sweet sweet swamp rat meat.

A new invasive species has emerged in Louisiana that health experts are urging people to NOT eat, however — the lowly apple snail. Apple snails are an invasive species from South America that were first spotted in Gretna, LA (near New Orleans) in 2006, and that are currently causing problems in Louisiana, especially for crawfish fisherman and residents who encounter the potentially dangerous creatures and the parasites they carry.

According to CBS42 and the LSU AgCenter, you CAN eat apple snails, but you should do so very carefully, because they could actually kill you:

The best thing to do is to destroy the eggs by removing the masses from any place they are attached to above the water.

Apple snails can not hatch in the water. 

Do not use your hands to remove the egg masses.

According to the LSU AgCenter, "Skin exposed to apple snail eggs should be washed immediately."

So, why do you need to wash your hands?

The LSU AgCenter says, "The eggs contain a protein neurotoxin called PcPV2, which has been shown to be lethal to mice and it can cause irritation of the skin and eyes of humans." 

Despite Apple snails being harmful to humans in these ways, you can eat them. 

The LSU AgCenter advises that if you are going to eat an apple snail, please you caution when preparing the meal. 

"The snails are edible when thoroughly cooked and properly cleaned by removing all intestinal material," according to the LSU AgCenter. 

If you don't prepare a meal of apple snails correctly, you could die. 

The LSU AgCenter says, "Raw or undercooked snails can contain rat lungworm, a parasite that can cause potentially fatal eosinophilic meningitis.

Hmmm….I think I'll pass. I'll stick to the old tried-and-true crawfish and my childhood favorite, frog legs, next time I'm visiting home.