Cernuella virgata

vineyard snail on leaves

Biological Name

Cernuella virgata (da Costa, 1778)

Common Name

Vineyard snail

Other Common Names

Common garden snail, white snail, striped snail, zoned snail

Appearance/Characteristics

The vineyard snail is 10 to 25 mm in diameter, shell colour is highly variable, it ranges from white or cream with or without brown spiral banding. The umbilicus is moderately large and deep. When fully adult, the apertural lip may only partly obscuring the open umbilicus.

Other Similar Species

Theba pisana

Biological Notes

The vineyard snail can have an annual or biennial life cycle. In the Mediterranean, it has a biennial life cycle, in Australia normally a single lifecycle per year. Vineyard snails climb on plants for aestivation, in hot climates they aggregate in large numbers and snails coat the stems of the vegetation. The diet of the vineyard snail preferably consists of decaying matter. The vineyard snail does not survive serious winter frosts.

Geographic Distribution

The vineyard snail is mainly a species of the countries in the Mediterranean basin but now widespread in western France and the British Isles. It also established in Australia.

Habitat

The vineyard snail is generally a species of coastal areas but can also be found inland areas. It preferably lives in disturbed habitats, but also has invaded native habitats.

Crops at Risk

The vineyard snail is an important pest of cereal crops and vineyards.

Damage Caused/Symptoms

The aggregation on crops clog and damage machinery during harvest and contaminate the grain. In vineyards the aestivating snails contaminate harvested fruit.

Impact and Severity

The vineyard snail is mainly a pest at harvest. In Australia, the vineyard snail can reach high population levels and during some years cause total losses in wheat fields due to aggregations on the crop.

Prevention and Control

Minimum tillage may favour this species, ploughing will bury the snails and destroy their eggs. As the snails often migrate from adjacent areas a stripe of bare soil without organic matter and shelter can minimise migration into the fields.

Natural Predators

Birds, predatory arthropods, nematodes and other gastropods are natural predators of the vineyard snail.