|Cernuella virgata aestivating on a fence in Provence.|
informal group Sigmurethra
(Da Costa, 1778)
Cernuella virgata, also known as Helicella virgata, common name, the "vineyard snail", is a species of small, air-breathing land snail, a pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Hygromiidae, the hairy snails and their allies.
This species of snail makes and uses love darts.
The shell is from 6 to 19 mm in height and 8 to 25 mm in width.
The coloration of the shell is quite variable, but there is often a creamy-white background, with a variable number of pale to darker brown markings. Some shells are banded at the periphery and on the underside.
For terms see gastropod shell
The 15 x 12–23 mm. shell has 4.5-5.5 convex whorls.The last whorl is initially angulated or rounded. The aperture is rounded with a whitish or reddish lip inside and margin is not reflected, The umbilicus is always open, 1/10-1/6 of shell diameterand sometimes slightly excentric. The cloour of the periostracum is whitish or yellowish, sometimes with red hue and usually with two brown colour bands on the upper side and 3-4 narrower bands on the lower side, initially finely ribbed, weakly striated at lower whorls.
This snail is endemic to Mediterranean and Western Europe, including the British Isles. This species has been recovered from the Roman occupation of Volubilis, an archaeological site in present day Morocco.
Another land snail which is present as an invasive in Australia, and which is sometimes confused with Cernuella virgata is the species Theba pisana. It is somewhat similar in appearance, and lives under similar circumstances. Theba pisana is however a larger species with a more inflated shell, lower spire and a nearly covered umbilicus.
Comparison of shells of Cernuella virgata and Theba pisana:
Theba pisana with nearly "closed" umbilicus
Behavior and human relevance
This species aestivates after climbing to the top of vegetation (or fences). This habit is problematic for farmers engaged in in crop harvesting, because numerous snails are collected along with the crop.
The size of the egg is 1.5 mm.
- Da Costa, E. M. 1778. Historia naturalis testaceorum Britanniæ, or, the British conchology; containing the descriptions and other particulars of natural history of the shells of Great Britain and Ireland: illustrated with figures. - Historia naturalis testaceorum Britanniæ, ou, la conchologie Britannique; contenant les descriptions & autres particularités d'histoire naturelle des coquilles de la Grande Bretagne & de l'Irlande: avec figures en taille douce. En anglois & françois. - pp. i-xii [= 1-12], 1-254, i-vii [= 1-7], ,, Pl. I-XVII [= 1-17]. London. (Millan, White, Emsley & Robson). (in English and in French).
- Animalbase (Welter-Schultes)
- Kerney M.P. & Cameron R. A. D., 1979. A field guide to the land snails of Britain and northwestern Europe. Collins, London, ISBN 0-00-219676-X.
- C. Michael Hogan (2007) Volubilis, The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham 
- Barker G. M. 2004. Natural Enemies of Terrestrial Molluscs, CABI Publishing, 644 pp., ISBN 0-85199-319-2
- Common white snail or Mediterranean white snail, Quarantine Tasmania fact sheet. Tasmania's Department of Primary Industries and Water.
- Heller J.: Life History Strategies. in Barker G. M. (ed.): The biology of terrestrial molluscs. CABI Publishing, Oxon, UK, 2001, ISBN 0-85199-318-4. 1-146, cited page: 428.
- Butcher A. R. & Grove D. I.: Seasonal variation in rates of sporocyst and metacercarial infection by Brachylaima cribbi in helicid and hygromiid land snails on the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia. - Australian Journal of Zoology, 2006, 53(6): 375–382.
- Helix de Córdoba