Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A small white snail that climbed onto a drying basket-flower

with 27 comments

Small White Snail on Dry Basket-Flower 2998

This is from May 29th on the Pflugerville-Round Rock border. I can tell you that the basket-flower is Centaurea americana, but for me the snail remains Molluscus unknownus.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 30, 2015 at 5:37 AM

27 Responses

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  1. I wonder what it found to enjoy on a dried out flower.


    June 30, 2015 at 6:18 AM

  2. Excellent find – it looks like there is something behind the basket flower worth photographing too!!


    June 30, 2015 at 6:41 AM

  3. Are these snails common there? I don’t see many here although we do have them. Slugs are more common locally…at least in my experience. Although the flower is frying, there must be some tiny tidbits. The snail wouldn’t waste its energy climbing for the view.

    Steve Gingold

    June 30, 2015 at 6:33 PM

    • Yes, these little snails are common, and at times I’ve seen as many as a few dozen of them that have climbed the plants on a plot of ground. Whether this snail had already been there when the flower head was still fresh, I don’t know. Seems like there’s a science project waiting here for an industrious student (assuming the snails’ behavior isn’t already known).

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 30, 2015 at 9:20 PM

  4. I really like the contrast between the smooth snail shell, the intricate basket and the frowzy, drying flower head.

    I was looking for an image of the species of snail I see most often when I came across this information about how snails deal with heat:

    “To keep their lovely tentacles nice and moist snails simply hermetically seal themselves off from the universe when it gets hot and nasty…

    They close the shell with a membrane made from dried mucus — think of it as homemade plastic wrap. Then they go into a kind of suspended animation state called aestivation where they reduce their breathing rate. Then they wait. Patiently. Until the situation improves.”

    This little creature may have been aestivating.


    June 30, 2015 at 9:25 PM

    • (A)estivation is to hibernation as summer is to winter (the former coming from Latin aestīvus, based on aestās ‘summer’). What you report about how a snail (a)estivates is interesting, a less-well-known parallel to the hibernation that we learned about in elementary school.

      At the stage shown here, the basket looks quite baskety and almost appears as if it could be made of straw.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 30, 2015 at 9:39 PM

  5. What an interesting image. I associate snails with smooth surfaces, darkness, moisture and greenery, not dry brown textured baskets. To see them together like this is unusual, Steve.


    July 1, 2015 at 12:37 AM

    • Before I started doing nature photography here 16 years ago, I don’t think I would have associated snails with drying flowers either. I don’t know about snail behavior in other places, but in central Texas I often see small snails climbing on plants of various sorts, so at least here it’s not unusual behavior.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 1, 2015 at 5:07 AM

  6. Una estupenda combinación. Me gusta.

  7. In Costa Rica, my biggest garden pests were the large iguanas/ctenosaurs. Here in Ecuador, there’s one more pest that randomly strips all foliage, and that’s a giant snail. I once tolerated them, but they take out spinach, basil, etc, so now I transport them 100 steps or more from the garden and place them in new grazing zones.

    • Do you hire cowboys or shepherds to keep watch over them, or are there specialized snailherds who’ll hire on to do the work?

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 6, 2015 at 10:38 AM

      • you would make an amazing children’s book author! your imagination is incredible and infectious!

        • Just watch out for the infectious part, my child, or you might need more antibiotics!

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 6, 2015 at 3:07 PM

          • just finished a 5-hour painting session at the museum, and i enjoyed the chuckle! thanks! zzzzzzzzz

            • Does that zzzzzzzzz at the end mean you’ve fallen asleep?

              Steve Schwartzman

              July 6, 2015 at 9:48 PM

              • ha.. most likely, as i was asleep almost instantly… this chikungunya/dengue leaves us veterans with extreme fatigue..

                last night was the first night of four at the bahia de caraquez museum. i arrived early afternoon and painted from 3 until 7 last night. i slept from about 9 until 7 this morning. i always wait until the musuem formally opens before i go out for breakfast so that i don’t disrupt the guards’ routine.

                it was so wonderful to have the musuem to myself yesterday/monday — the day they’re closed to the public!

                today there will be students and tourists coming through, but that’s ok.. i can retreat to my room throughout the day and resume serious painting when it closes. i am SO lucky to have their trust so that i can work here this week!

                • You’re lucky indeed to be able to work inside a museum like that, and so freely. Have you had any experiences like the ones in horror movies where things come to life in the middle of the night?

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  July 7, 2015 at 8:10 AM

                • i chuckle.. the first time i stayed here was in 2012, and the guards asked me the next morning if i had been spooked… no… so they started telling me stories of weird things that happen here in the night. one was about a skull someone had found and brought to the director, who was not here, so the box w/the skull was left on her desk for the weekend. when she arrived on monday, the guards said, ‘get that box out of this museum!’ apparently the lights did weird things all weekend.

                • Let’s hope some eerie things happen to you so you can paint them.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  July 7, 2015 at 8:57 AM

                • there was a very strong connection to the artifact i was painting last night, but that happened when i once did random portraits.. the concentration is so intense that it’s as if i know the soul of the person.. (which is why i stopped doing portraits.. it was spooky).. so to know the ancient who made the artifact – wow that would be grand.


                • I can imagine a fantasy movie where the main character goes in and out of time and temporarily becomes ancient artists. You could design all the sets for the film.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  July 7, 2015 at 9:10 AM

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