Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vitrina angelicae : Eastern Glass-Snail

I've said it once, and I'll say it again, the northeast region of Pennsylvania is fairly understudied (or at least under-reported) when it comes to nature, which is funny to think about, as it's located a short 2 hours from either Philadelphia or New York City. Multiply an understudied class of organisms by an understudied area and you've got a void of knowledge. This reason is why it's exciting (alright, let's talk in relativities) to be interested in snails and live, at least part-time, in Northeast PA. My sightings get to actually add to the knowledge base with new records.

Which brings me to Vitrina angelicae, the Eastern Glass-Snail. Also I've seen a common name of Transparent Vitrine Snail, but that name is pretty lame. According to Pilsbry, the genus name stems from the the latin word vitrum, which translates to glass and the species name is traced to the plant, Angelica archangelica, near which it was originally found.

According to the records, this snail is only known to reside in Western, mostly Northwestern, Pennsylvania. Also, according to what is known, the snail is an annual species--becoming active in October and dead by the spring. You can read about it at http://www.carnegiemnh.org/mollusks/palandsnails/vi_ange.html.

I also found information at http://www.livinglandscapes.bc.ca/cbasin/molluscs/vitrinidae.html which is an account of the related species Vitrina pellucida (the Western Glass-Snail). According to the website, Vitrina pellucida is carnivorous, and it's only difference with V. angelicae is anatomical. To test a little theory that then V. angelicae is also carnivorous I have it in a jar with what is likely prey, Cochlicopa lubrica-- which was found in proximity to the snail-- and Zonitoides arboreus.

I should also mention that I have found empty shells in two locations in Luzerne County. The first the island of trees and rocks in the turnaround at Nescopeck State Park where also present were plenty of Stenotrema hirsutum, and during the summer while taking my younger daughter through the Butterfly Garden at Frances Slocum State Park. I have also found the shells in the woods adjacent to the Butterfly Garden, though not very far into them.

From now on, instead of attaching an image to the snails known Pennsylvania counties I'll be just linking to my interactive known distribution map. To autoload Vitrinia angelicae go to http://kevinripka.com/pasnails/?snail=113.

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