On April 16, I saw the first land snails of the year in Eliza Howell Park. It was a cold, dark day, and while they usually appear about this time, I was a little surprised to see them because of how cold it has been this April and because the grasses and wildflowers do not yet show much new life.
Land snails breathe air and do not need to be in water. They eat plant parts.
I am definitely not a malacologist (who studies mollusks, including snails), but I have been trying to learn a little about the land snails that are common in parts of the park. Though I am not entirely sure, I think the Eliza Howell land snails are all of one kind and are Brown-lipped Snails (which are sometimes also called Banded Snails or Grove Snails).
The snails have returned, not from migration, but from hibernation. In the Fall, they find a sheltered spot, use their mucus to cover the shell mouth, and seal themselves in for the winter months.
Before this week, the most recent photos I have are from September, 2017. As can be clearly seen from these pictures, there is color variation among the snails.
During the next few months, one place where they can be found is among the high grasses and wildflowers between the road loop and the footbridge, off the main path. In walking among the plants, it is easy to step on them (and hear a crunch sound) before seeing them.
If this year is like recent years, they will be present in large numbers.
For some people, snails may not be as attractive or as exciting as some other fauna in the park. For nature observers who want to get as complete a picture as possible of the “critters” found in this urban park, however, they are definitely worthy of attention (and maybe a few pictures).