Cernuella virgata

Cernuella virgata
Cernuella virgata
Cernuella virgata aestivating on a fence in Provence.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Heterobranchia
clade Euthyneura
clade Panpulmonata
clade Eupulmonata
clade Stylommatophora
informal group Sigmurethra
Superfamily: Helicoidea
Family: Hygromiidae
Genus: Cernuella
Subgenus: Cernuella
Species: C. virgata
Binomial name
Cernuella virgata
(Da Costa, 1778)[1]

Helicella virgata

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.


Shell description

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.


Cernuella virgata estivating on plant stems near the temple of Segesta, Italy

This snail is endemic to Mediterranean and Western Europe, including the British Isles.[2] This species has been recovered from the Roman occupation of Volubilis, an archaeological site in present day Morocco.[3]

Cernuella virgata is an invasive species and an agricultural pest in parts of Australia, where it arrived around 1920. In Australia it is known as the "common white snail".[4][5]

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, (see the pair of comparative images below).

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.

Over a hundred Cernuella virgata on a small section of fence in Provence, France

Life cycle

The size of the egg is 1.5 mm.[6]


Cernuella virgata is as intermediate host for the terrestrial trematode parasite Brachylaima cribbi.[7]


Cernuella virgata, with Theba pisana, is consumed in Spain as a "tapa" in the bars, especially in Andalusia, where snails are known as "Chichos" snails.[8]

See also


  1. ^ 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], [1],, Pl. I-XVII [= 1-17]. London. (Millan, White, Emsley & Robson). (in English and in French).
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2007) Volubilis, The Megalithic Portal, ed. A. Burnham [1]
  4. ^ Barker G. M. 2004. Natural Enemies of Terrestrial Molluscs, CABI Publishing, 644 pp., ISBN 0851993192
  5. ^ Common white snail or Mediterranean white snail, Quarantine Tasmania fact sheet. Tasmania's Department of Primary Industries and Water.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Helix de Córdoba

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