Brown garden snail. Captured by my front porch in Largo, Florida, USA.
The brown garden snail (European brown snail) Helix (Cyptoomphalus) aspersa Müller, was described by O.F. Müller in 1774 from specimens collected in Italy. This plant feeder has been disseminated into many parts of the world intentionally as a food delicacy, accidentally by the movement of plants, and by hobbyists who collect snails. It was introduced to California in the 1850s as a source of escargot. It has adapted well to California and is very troublesome as a pest of crops and ornamentals (Capinera 2001).
Snails belong to the class Gastropoda, and are related to the clams and oysters which belong to the class Pelecypoda. They prefer an undisturbed habitat with adequate moisture and good food supply. The snail body is protected by a hard shell, usually marked with spirals. Most land snails are nocturnal, but following a rain may come out of their hiding places during the day. They move with a gliding motion by means of a long flat muscular organ called a foot. Mucus, constantly secreted by glands in the foot, facilitates movement and leaves a silverlike slimy trail. The reproductive organs of both sexes occur in the same individuals and each is capable of self- fertilization, although cross fertilization is normal. Adults deposit eggs. Specimens are deposited in the Florida State Museum and the Florida State Collection of Arthropods.
Burch (1960) reports natural distribution in Britain, western Europe, and along borders of the Mediterranean and Black Seas. It has been introduced into the Atlantic Islands, South Africa, Haiti, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Chile and Argentina. In the United States, Capinera (2001) reports it in California and along the west coast north to British Columbia, Canada, in most southeastern states and along the east coast north to New Jersey. However, it has not developed the serious pest status found in California. Although occasionally intercepted on plant shipments to Florida, it has not become established in this state.
Shell large, globose, rather thin, imperforate or nearly so, moderately glossy, sculptured with fine wrinkles. It is yellow or horn-colored with chestnut brown spiral bands which are interrupted by yellow flecks or streaks. The aperture is roundly lunate to ovate-lunate, the lip turned back. Adult shells (four to five whorls) measure 28 to 32 mm in diameter (Burch, 1960).