Gnawing Damage on Alcea Setosa Leaves
June 07, 2018
The photo above shows an Alcea setosa plant (family Malvaceae) that I domesticated in my apartment garden, propagating it from seeds collected from the wild and grown in containers. I kept track on a daily basis of all stages of its development, from seedling to fruit (see this video). After few weeks, in February 2018, while flowering began, I noticed obvious damage to the fresh leaves but couldn’t find the critter that was doing the gnawing. However, on the 30th of March (2018) around midnight, just after Passover feast, I stepped out into the open air of my balcony and found the guilty party; a garden snail (bottom photo), Helix aspersa (Cornu aspersum). This ravenous terrestrial gastropod mollusk has nocturnal habits. While it feeds on leaves, its soft body is out of its shell. The mucus it produces reduces the friction with the surface to aid it in moving from one target plant to another. This herbivorous snail is native to the Mediterranean region but now is found in many more areas of the world and considered an undesirable pest.