Pennsylvania Land Snails
Photo(s): Larry Watrous
Webbhelix multilineata (Say, 1821)
Common name: Striped whitelip
The striped whitelip is a large snail with a reflected lip and reddish color bands on a lighter yellowish or pale brownish background. The shell is rather round, slightly depressed, with 5 or more whorls, but varies in size. Pilsbry (1940) reports sizes from 21mm diameter and 14mm height to 30mm diameter and 18.5mm height. It generally has no denticles, or “teeth,” in its aperture, though Pilsbry states there is rarely a low parietal tooth. Its umbilicus or “belly button” is closed as an adult, covered by a callus, but the umbilicus is open in immature animals. Juveniles also lack the reflected lip, but the color bands and shell shape are diagnostic. The animal is gray.
A denizen of large wetlands and river floodplains, the striped whitelip can be found in semi-open sedge and shrub swamp habitat, wet meadows and marshes. In summer I have found it crawling low on leaf litter, moss and saturated soil, and climbing herbaceous plants or lower shrub branches. It is often on skunk cabbage, which it may eat. It appears to use logs, rocks, moss hummocks and hillocks that develop around the foot of wetland shrubs for cover, to escape high water, and to overwinter.
The striped whitelip is quite uncommon East of the Ohio River. In Pennsylvania it is known from only scattered records on the main stem or lower tributaries of the Monongahela River, and from wetlands in Beaver County (Brooks, 1931; Hubricht, 1985).
Ken Hotopp, 9/14/05
Development of this site was supported by the generous contributions of Pennsylvanians to the Wild Resource Conservation Fund.