Virginia Land Snails
Photo(s): Images of Philomycus venustus extended and contracted, by Dan Dourson ©. Additional photos showing background mantle color variation by Ken Hotopp ©
Click photo(s) to enlarge.
Philomycus venustus Hubricht, 1953
Common name: Brown-spotted Mantleslug
Length: 50-100 mm
Philomycus venustus is a large slug with a mantle that covers the entire dorsal surface. The mantle is pale tan to tan-grey and usually mottled with large dark brown to brown-black spots. These spots coalesce to form an irregular central band and two lateral bands running along the edge of each side of the mantle. In addition to the lateral bands the large spots form chevron shaped bands that run from the center band forward to each lateral band. The reproductive system is equipped with a dart sac containing a short wide dart.
This species is common in upland hardwood forests to about 1800 meters (5,900 feet) in the southern Appalachian Mountains. They are often observed feeding on fungi and lichens at night and during wet weather and they aestivate under loose bark and rotting logs. These slugs produce white defense mucous when irritated.
Unpublished DNA sequence data suggests that Philomycus venustus may be a complex of several high-elevation species. This complex requires further taxonomic work to clarify species relationships.
Philomycus venustus is distributed from eastern West Virginia to South Carolina. In Virginia the species is primarily found in the extreme southwestern part of the state.
NatureServe Global Rank: G4
NatureServe State Rank: S3
John Slapcinsky 10/2012