Helicella itala

Family

Helicidae

Species

Helicella itala (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common Name

Heath snail

Description

This species has white, tan or pale yellow shells that are approximately 5-12 mm high and 9-25 mm wide, with 5.5-6.5 whorls. There may also be dark brown stripes on the conical shell of this group. The shell has a wide umbilicus.

Native Range

Western Europe

Distribution

Europe: Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Poland

Australia

Ecology

This species occupies open habitats, including grasslands. It can also be found in disturbed habitats (e.g. roadsides, railways and forested dunes). The heath snail aestivates on vertical objects (e.g., blades of grass). This species is generally considered a contaminant; however, in agricultural setting this species may achieve pest status when there is a high population density. Large numbers of heath snails can clog machinery and add moisture to harvested crops. This added moisture often leads to spoilage and in some cases infestation by secondary pathogens. Some secondary pathogens are capable of producing toxins which may be harmful to humans and cattle. They produce a maximum of 90 eggs per clutch and can live up to 3 years, reproducing twice per year.

Synonyms

  • Helicella ericetorum O.F. Muller

References

Anderson 2005; Kerney et al. 1979

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