But then nearly 5,000 live snails were discovered in September 2014, in and around a single house in the wealthy Miami suburb of Pinecrest.
Never before had officials seen one home so overwhelmed with giant snails. The owners lived in the house, regularly landscaped their yard and ran the sprinklers outside to keep the grass green.
"It was a paradise for snails," said Yong Cong.
No one is really sure how the snails got to Florida, but some believe they were smuggled in by people who practice Afro-Caribbean folk religions which use the snails in their rituals.
When the snails were first discovered in south Florida, Santeria was blamed.
"As always takes place, everything that is strange gets labeled under my religion, Santeria," said Ernesto Pichardo, a leading expert and practitioner.
"And we were all like, 'Excuse me, no! This is the first time I have ever seen this beast,'" he recalled.
"It does what? It eats stucco?"
Rather, Santeria uses the small, native Florida snails occasionally in ritual offerings to honor creation, but they are never eaten, he said. Either they are killed or let go after the ritual is over.
Pichardo said Giant African Snails are instead used by traditionalists of the Yoruba people, native to Nigeria and some neighbouring parts of West Africa, who believe drinking the snail's mucus can cure certain ailments.
Since it is illegal to possess Giant African Snails in Florida, the practice remains cloaked in secrecy.
Officials are not aware of any cases of illness due to giant snail ingestion in Miami, but they say the risk is real.
The latest phase in the response has been to unleash sniffer dogs on the snails' trail.
Two labradors, specifically trained to sit if they get a whiff, are employed by the Department of Agriculture.
Omar Garcia, one of the dog handlers, said their primary job is to provide an extra layer of confirmation that all the snails are gone following a chemical treatment.
"Sometimes we receive tips from the general public and we'll go out and search," he added.
Experts have removed 158,000 of the giant snails in the past four years.
The latest discovery of live giant snails was in a new neighborhood south of Miami in April.
Snails were found outside four houses, and were quickly killed off.
"They were all underneath this tree, and they've gotten rid of everything," homeowner Meredith Parker told AFP in July.
But officials won't be able to say the snails are gone for good until two years has passed since the last giant snail is found alive in the wild.