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The Explosive Shell
By Stella M. Turk MBE

White garden snail (Theba pisana)White garden snail (Theba pisana)

Theba pisana is a xerophile
(it likes it dry)

Theba pisana is a calcophile
(it likes it ‘sweet’)

Theba pisana is a thermophile
(it likes it hot)

Theba pisana is a snail

With a very long trail.

For when its got all it could need

Plus plenty of plants on which to feed

Its populations start to explode

In many far-flung parts of the globe.

First in North Africa, later Australia

And for good measure California.

In Ireland, Wales and Cornwall - all Celtic lands -

It lives on the warm, dry, limeful shell sands.

If its too hot it aestivates
(summer sleeps)

If too cold it hibernates
(winter sleeps)

And in this dozy manner

It has spread from St Ives to Bude Bay

Watch out Devon - it’s coming your way!





The White (or Sandhill) snail (Theba pisana)

This attractive-looking snail is known for its ability to emigrate by water and land (probably in cargoes and on cars) and to reproduce in prodigious numbers in the right conditions. Colonies were known in Wales, Ireland and Cornwall (The Island, St Ives) at the end of the 18th century, remaining small and stable for a couple of centuries. Two decades ago, they started to appear in a series of ‘explosions’ at various points along the north coast of Cornwall, the focal points usually being car parks. Here they can occur in millions on the maritime vegetation.

Stella M Turk MBE
30th November 1998

More verses by Stella ....