Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Second verse, same as the first

After it rained a few days ago I went out to see what was taking advantage of all the extra moisture.  And of course, what I mostly found were...snails.
Snails eat plants, and eating plants is not particularly garden friendly. Unfortunately I've never seen a snail attacking Bermuda grass or poison ivy either one.  Even snails have their limits.

But, keeping in mind snails also feed birds and snakes and the occasional raccoon, I mostly leave them alone until and unless I see them in sufficient numbers to alarm. Given our ongoing run of droughty hot summers, this has not happened for quite a while.

Speaking of heat and drought, legend has it snails protected Buddha's head from the sun as he meditated during a particularly hot dry spell.  Can you imagine the powers of concentration it would take to ignore tolerate welcome snails forming a shady covering for your head? Yeah. Me, neither.
Out I went with my camera intending to capture images and then identify the types of snails to be found in these spaces.  You can guess the rest.  As it went with birds, and then butterflies, bees, and then moths, I did not find many photos of snails supposedly common to our area that seemed to neatly align with the ones I found.

This is not to say I am hosting any rare or new or previously undiscovered snails.  This is to say I spent a lot longer than I intended online, searching out snail information and images.  Most of what I found was centered around eradicating rather than identifying them.  Understandable, but not helpful.

So for what it is worth, here goes my highly unscientific taking-a-wild-stab-at-what-they-are lineup of usual suspects.  FIrst up? Several examples of some type of scrubsnails.

They are a lot more acrobatic than I imagined.

That smaller, slightly globose shelled snail to the top right side of the photo above, is a common brown garden snail (Cornu aspersum).  They like verbena and penstemon among other flowering plants.  The one on the far left?  It could be a color variant of the common brown or it might be something else. Honestly it beats the heck out of me.
Scrubsnail?  Maybe...
The following is potentially the remnant of some form of Rabdotus.  Or not...
Finally, and here is where I gratefully made a definite identification, the elongated cone shaped shells here in my "snail's graveyard" are a form of Rumina decollata, or the Decollate snail.  They were categorized as an exotic though I have them everywhere.  Or at least their leftovers.

They feed on other snails as well as plants and I ran across a couple of sites that reported the mature snails break the tip off their shell purposefully.
I'd noted their shells were nearly always minus the end and attributed it to wear and tear.  Nope.  The snail did that and nobody seems to know how, much less why.

Score another mystery for the snails.


Tina said...

Like you, I don't fret about snails, though I've never had a real problem with them. I love the 4th and 5th photos--acrobatic is a good description. Interesting about the Decollate snail--I have those too. As usual, great photos, Deb.

TexasDeb said...

Tina: Thanks! Maybe I ought to fret about snails but honestly I feel I've got enough else going on between teeny grasshoppers and weeds to keep me plenty busy at the moment.

I keep thinking - oh those weeds can wait - they aren't anywhere near going to seed yet and then blammo - next time I think to check there are seed heads everywhere. I've got weeding featured prominently in my short and long range to-do lists!

Cat said...

Exotic, hmmmp. The Decollate snails easily mow down new coneflower transplants. I relocate them to the greenbelt by the dozens.

I've noticed recently several plants being chewed and discovered tiny grasshoppers on them. They are stealth little things, but I've managed to squish a fair amount. Need to look up what their natural predators might be...

Linda/patchwork said...

Great photos!

I don't go out looking for snails. But, if I see one while working, it's a goner.

Cat's comment makes me think that's what happened to my coneflowers this year.

TexasDeb said...

Cat: Oof. If I catch snails mowing anything down, they too get relocated, though not to a greenbelt. I've got loads of teeny grasshoppers - really brightly colored ones - and they are monster munchers as they get larger. Hard to catch, too. I typically roam around with a container of soapy water and try to either knock them in or get them to jump in (which makes for some splashing as you might guess!). If you find a natural predator (other than ME) let us all know?

TexasDeb said...

Linda: I'm with you - if I catch a snail in the act of munching on my plants? Goodbye is all she wrote. And now I'm thinking that might be what happened to a couple of coneflowers I thought might have simply gotten stepped on or dug out or otherwise insulted in some "won't come back after that" incident.

At least snails don't fly or jump away!

Cat said...

If you lost coneflower I would definitely blame the snails. They tend to go for black eyed Susan transplants, and the candy lily as they emerge in my garden too. You're right that at least they don't jump. I've managed to control their numbers by hunting them down in the early morning and late evening. The grasshoppers are another thing entirely. They are fast. I'll try your soapy water. I've been sneaking up on them and grabbing and squishing...not pleasant but somewhat satisfying. What does that say about me?! Gardening in Central Texas will change you, I tell ya.
As far as the natural predators I have I've got plenty of birds and there is some type of beetle but it sounds like the beetle is as bad or worse than the grasshoppers!

TexasDeb said...

Cat: Honestly, if it was snails that took the coneflower that almost makes me feel better that I lost a plant that is supposed to be tough and otherwise tolerant of the challenges here. The idea I can't "even" grow coneflowers successfully was not a happy one.

Good luck with your squishing. I use the soapy water trick to limit damaging so many tender leaves on my plants (unfortunate frequent collateral damage to my "friendly fire" squishing).

I swear the surviving hoppers are onto me. Whenever I carelessly let my shadow fall across them or move too slowly to get the soapy water container close they hop away and often disappear.