Snails

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Snails. Image courtesy CSU

In Australia four species of introduced snails are pests of grain crops and pastures in the Southern Region. These can be divided into two distinct groups: round or white snails and conical or pointed snails.

Vineyard or common white snail

Scientific name Cernuella virgata

Geographic location

Found throughout the agricultural districts of SA, the Victorian Mallee and Wimmera. Also occurs in WA, NSW and eastern Tasmania.

Features

Mature shell diameter between 10-20mm.

Coiled white shell with or without a brown band around the spiral.

Open, circular umbilicus. Under magnification regular straight scratches/etchings can be seen across the shell.

Food source

Dead organic material but can severely damage young cereals, canola and pulse crops.

Importance and behaviour over summer

Contaminant of grain. Over summers off ground on plants, stubbles, posts etc.

White Italian snail

Scientific name Theba pisana

Geographic location

Common along the coastal areas of SA. Also occurs in coastal areas of NSW, Victoria, WA and eastern Tasmania.

Features

Mature shell diameter between 10-30mm.

Mature snails have coiled white shell with broken brown bands running around the spiral. Some individuals lack the banding and are white.

Semi-circular or partly closed umbilicus. Under magnification cross hatched scratches can be seen on the shell.

Food source

Green plant material and dead organic material. Can cause significant damage to emerging crops and pastures.

Importance and behaviour over summer

Contaminant of grain. Over summers off ground on plants, stubbles, posts etc. Especially found in green weeds.

Conical or pointed snail

Scientific name Cochlicella acuta

Geographic location

Highest numbers found on Yorke Peninsula in SA. Isolated populations also found in other parts of SA, Victoria, NSW & WA.

Features

Fawn, grey or brown in colour. Mature snails have a shell length of up to 18mm. The ratio of the shell length to its diameter at the base is always greater than two.

Food source

Dead organic material. Never recorded feeding on crops or pastures.

Importance and behaviour over summer

Contaminant of grain. Over summers under stones and stumps, as well as on fence posts and vegetation.

Small conical or pointed snail

Scientific name Cochlicella barbara

Geographic location

Occurs throughout SA, but is most abundant in the higher rainfall areas

(>500mm). Also widely spread in NSW, Victoria and WA.

Features

Fawn, grey or brown in colour. Mature shell size of 8-10mm. The ratio of

its shell length to its diameter at the base is always two or less.

Food source

Green plant material and dead organic material. Recorded as a pest

of lucerne.

Importance and behaviour over summer

Has caused grain contamination in the lower South East of SA. Often

over summers in leaf litter at the soil surface or just below surface and

under stones and stumps etc., but can be found on posts and vegitation.

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