Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's like a jungle out there

It’s just a backyard in Brooklyn, poured concrete surrounded by brick wall, wooden fence, and plastic fence. About a third of it is overshadowed by a metal balcony, and the steps from upstairs slice off a fifth of it. But to this observer, the amount of life going on out there is astounding. Ants, which were, before the rains, getting out of hand. Fruit flies (OK, that’s the compost bin) and other members of the order diptera (not the compost bin). I killed an Asian tiger mosquito this morning (I’m sorry, it was either her or me). See pictures in earlier posts this week for some recent beetle visitors. Yesterday, I noted three orb spider webs. There are also several sheetweb constructions. This morning, I found one of the sheetweb spiders, good sized; she tucked herself into her purse-like niche, but a gentle breath of air made her curious (see above). I found her because I noticed these shiny things stuck on the brick of my building under my bedroom window that I took for dead bugs from a distance. I thought they were spider food:
Upon closer inspection, they turned out to be tiny snails.

There are dozens of them on the wall. According to my Shells from Cape Cod to Cape May with special reference to the NYC Area, which I found on a stoop, they are apple seed snails, Cionella lubrica. Some web research finds that they are more commonly called glossy pillar snails and are found across a wide range. Even at 1/4 inch high, they are the longest elongated land snail in our area, since most of our land snails have flat or depressed shells. The shells are somewhat transparent, and the snail is dark, so you can see it inside.
Or, in the case of this one, who got tired of being observed, sticking out.

Fun fact: land snails are functional hermaphrodites, but self-fertilization is rare; they usually mate with one another after a couple of drinks.

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