Most people are familiar, especially if they are gardeners, with Helix aspersa, the ubiquitous garden snail which was deliberately imported to California because people thought it might be tasty to eat. Yuck. H. aspersa is related to H. pomatia, or escargot. Unfortunately, H. aspersa didn’t taste very good, perhaps because of its diet here in the Golden State. But once it was here, it ate and ate and ate!

The hundreds of native species of snails in California and the Pacific Northwest have no doubt had their reputations damaged by the rapine practiced by H. aspersa. But that’s not fair at all. Living mostly unnoticed all around us are many fantastically interesting and beautiful snails who go about their humble lives without ever plundering our gardens. Here are some “glass snails” I collected today — they’re likely in the family Oxychilidae, but I can’t narrow it down much further than that, even with my snail field guide.

These are lovely, blue-gray snails, almost translucent in some light. They live under fallen logs and stones.

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