You can't just happen upon a rare native snail, or, let's face it, even a common native snail. During the day, most snails hide out, in cracks of trees, or under bark. Many species are only 1-2mm in size too, and when a pinpoint-sized micro snail is only found in a shady crack of select trees in a great forest, it becomes troubling indeed. The biggest issue is that fallen logs are not easy to come by here for some reason. But I mean, snails eat your prized geraniums and cabbages too, so that's another reason why this event is a new frontier for many people. Certainly I had only puzzled looks when trying to convince multiple people, all independently mind you, that no, I did not in fact lose something in the leaf litter, but I was actually documenting snails.
One early hike that went out, one that I was invited to but could not attend, found a great colony of Southern California shoulderband, a stunning native species that is considered to be endangered.. Naturally, in such an urban superzone that is Los Angeles, most of our expected snails are introduced from Europe or Asia. To find a native snail, one had to be quite lucky and also search in the perfect spots. There are about 15-20 native snails in Los Angeles county, and guess how many I have seen. A grand total of 0.
Though I could not attend the event itself, I was able to turn up yesterday and look around. I found the fallen log, the only log of its kind in the area, and rolled it back. There was a discouraging 10 seconds of scouring the litter-ridden forest floor, but finally, hiding under a sycamore leaf, was that shoulder-striped shell I had been looking for. I found a few of them after a bit more searching, before returning the log to its original position and covering the sides with leaf litter to try and revive the sealed-off microhabitat that was originally there.
|Southern California shoulderband, Helminthoglypta tudiculata!|
|Sand Pygmyweed, Crassula connata. Blink and you'll miss it! Then again, it's easy to miss it even if it wasn't|
1mm in size.
|Jointed charlock, Raphanus raphanistrum|
Also somewhat notable was the invasion of annual stinging nettle, Urtica urens. This one was in full bloom, which is not common, at least not for me:
|Annual nettle, Urtica urens, in full bloom. Maybe not the most exciting flowers|
in the world, but a show nonetheless.
|Common phacelia, Phacelia distans.|
I found a second log halfway through the trail, shaded under a coast live oak. I did not see any more shoulderbands, but I did find Paralaoma servilis. These tiny little shells were easy to miss, but once you find 1, you suddenly see 10, and then 20...They were not the rounded snails I was interested in, but arguably they are an even better find though still not a native species. They are apparently common in Los Angeles, but they are not covered in any literature and few experts know about them.
|Hairy crystalwort, Riccia trichocarpa.|
|Campbell crystalwort, Riccia campbelliana.|
|Sweet alyssum, Lobularia maritima.|