Just came across a Tweet from Hayley Jones, entomologist at the Royal Horticultural Society, asking if anyone wants to do "a sluggy PhD".
Here is the link she provides for further information:
Do have a read - it's very interesting.
The citizen science project, monitoring garden gastropods, sounds right up our street!
I should point out that the image is copyright to Simon Drew of Dartmouth Devon. "Simon Drew is an English illustrator and cartoonist, noted for his quirky punning captions, often featuring animals which he draws in a fine pen-and-ink style" https://www.simondrew.co.uk/
It is very kind of you both to re-offer membership but I think my past crimes (as admitted previously) probably disqualify me. However my SIL & a granddaughter both love snails & get very upset with me if I practice my dark arts in their garden (which is why their raised veg beds rarely produce anything). Perhaps I can be a follower by proxy.
Iain - yes - Simon Drew is indeed an excellent illustrator and punner.
I have 4 of his illustrations which I bought from the gallery in Dartmouth in the mid 80's. They feature Parrots, Warthogs and Sheep . They have been framed and re framed over the years and survived many house moves. I remember many an amusing ( but frustrating ) hour trying to explain them to various French and Spanish neighbours It usually resulted in polite but totally mystified smiles
Not completely out of context but listening to the radio the other night...........the English language is known for it's persistent use of animal terms ( can't think of the proper term but the opposite of anthromorphism perhaps ? ). Whilst other languages do use these terms, English seems to have taken it to a greater degree than most in that we put animal characteristics on to humans as opposed to t'other way round.
It had never really struck me before but I suspect we could almost go from A to Z in common phrases and find an animal within it.
pbff - thanks for your link - will check that out later. Sunny and dry for a change so off out again to garden after a restorative cuppa !
Iain - I am sure that you can be follower by proxy
I tweeted Dr Hayley Jones about the snail project and she said that the citizen science part will be likely to start in the autumn, although they have to find a PhD student and get approval from IAPETUS before the project can be launched, so no guarantees that it will go ahead yet. Fingers crossed that it will!
Another interesting thing that I found out about is 'Snailspace Brighton & Hove'.
According to the website it says:
"As the leaves turn golden in Autumn 2018 Snailspace Brighton & Hove will be hitting the streets.
The Snail sculptures will be popping up throughout the city, decorated by local artists and community groups, and sponsored by local businesses and individuals.
We're asking you to #BeMoreSnail and take the slow road around our city. Wander wherever the urge takes you. Wonder at the unique sculptures - enjoy and share experiences with friends old and new.
The fantastic 'Snailway' of sculptures is brought to you by Martlets Hospice, in partnership with Wild in Art, to raise funds for their life changing hospice care".
There is the option to Sponsor a Snail, Become A Snail Artist ("come out of your shell and get involved with Snailspace") or Join the Junior Snailway.
See http://www.wildinart.co.uk/snailspace-art-events/4474 and https://www.snailspacebrighton.co.uk/
for more information.
Lucky you Philippa - it's thick of fog here and all damp, cold and miserable.
Nice weather for snails and slugs though I suppose...
Last edited: 10 January 2018 14:48:50
Today's topic is ... snail slime!
What is snail slime?
Slime is an external bodily secretion of mucus produced by gastropods, functioning as a a protective layer for the skin.
Mucus is produced by glands of a snail's foot, specifically a large gland located below the mouth.
The foot mucus has some of the qualities of an adhesive and some of the qualities of a lubricant, allowing land gastropods to crawl up vertical surfaces without falling off.
As well as being a crawling-aid, slime also allows a resting snail to passively adhere to a surface, making a temporary sealing structure called the epiphragm.
The mucus is also used to deter predators, to recognise other snails and to follow a trail to a known destination.
A snail releases different kinds of mucus depending upon the way it is stimulated. If a snail is disturbed continuously or violently, it will release clear, foamy secretions.
Snail slime contains approximately 91-98% water, depending upon the species, combined with a small proportion of high molecular weight glycoproteins.
Human uses for snail slime
Snail slime was traditionally used from Ancient Greek times to the Middle Ages as a remedy against a variety of ailments.
For example, a person suffering from gastrointestinal ulcers would have snails placed upon their upper chest and the slime would be spread around their rib cage.
(Perhaps Patricia Highsmith was trying out this ancient remedy when keeping snails in her bra! )
The Ancient Greeks are said to have used an ointment made from crushed snails to reduce skin inflammation.
Today, snail slime is used in the cosmetics industry.
The slime is claimed to stimulate the formation of collagen, elastin and dermal components that repair the signs of photoaging and is also claimed to minimise the damage generated by free radicals that are responsible for premature skin ageing.
It is believed to reduce inflammation and redness, stimulate skin regeneration, moisturise the skin, fade dark spots and improve acne.
The slime is usually commercially obtained from Helix aspersa, which produces a secretion rich in proteins of high and low molecular weight, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants.
In 2013, inspired by treatments in E. Asia, anyone wanting a face as youthful and as beautiful as that of a snail could pay to have snails crawl over their face at a spa in Northamptonshire...
Other salons offer facials where the skin is pricked with tiny needles before a serum containing snail secretions is applied.
Reports suggest that snail farming, or heliciculture, in Italy has increased by more than 325% over two decades, with some 44,000 tonnes of snails produced every year, an industry now worth £180 million, according to agricultural association Coldiretti.
Coldiretti's president Roberto Moncalvo said, "We are seeing record numbers of new avante-garde snail-production businesses".
More than 4,000 producers are farming snails in Italy, mostly raising Helix aspersa.
Heliciculture involves raising snails for human use - their flesh as edible escargot, their eggs as gourmet caviar (a 50g pack of this caviar can cost as much as £86, apparently) and their slime for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
In early 2017, Simone Sampo, president of Italy's National Heliciculture Association, told The Telegraph, "In the last 10 months alone, we've seen a 46% increase in snail slime, due to the demand from the cosmetics industry."
Last edited: 13 January 2018 14:10:43
Traditionally, snails were dunked in water containing salt, vinegar or other chemicals to make them secrete slime, but nowadays, Italian snail-breeders have developed more natural methods of slime extraction.
Slime quality depends heavily on environmental conditions and breeders regulate what the snails eat, how they are kept and how the slime is extracted, so that products can be certified in certain ways.
Italy recently patented a new machine, called the Muller One, which extracts snail slime by immersing the snails in a special steam bath.
"It is essentially a spa for snails," said Mr Sampo. "We raise them naturally, feed them only vegetable matter and then extract the slime with water that contains ozone, which kills all the bacteria. The snails are not harmed."
The Muller One
Snails in the Muller One
The slime extraction process in the Muller One
A snail slime cosmetic product
Last edited: 13 January 2018 14:21:43
only just caught up and not read properly but interesting as always pbff
All well with you, I hope?
Hi SLS Members,
Apologies for my extended absence.
I have had the flu and so haven't been in work for a week, then had a bit of catching up to do when I returned.
I found out about an snail project called 'Marvellous Mud Snails' on the Buglife website.
The project aims to create a healthier population of the Pond Mud Snail (Omphiscola glabra) in Scotland.
The Pond Mud Snail is small at 12-20mm in length, with an elongated, conical brown shell.
In February, they lay egg masses of 10-30 eggs, which take up to 25 days to hatch.
The Pond Mud Snail is known from only 7 sites in Scotland, all in different local authority areas including Clackmannanshire, East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, West Lothian, Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Falkirk.
In the past, this snail was found all across lowland England and Wales and was recorded as far north as Perth.
The snail requires small, temporary, nutrient-poor pools, which are rarely protected and are seen as inferior habitats that are difficult to manage.
However, these habitats also support other scarce species, such as the Oxbow Diving Beetle (Hydroporus rufifrons). Like the Pond Mud Snail, this beetle is specially adapted to survive periodic drought by burying itself into the mud and becoming inactive until the habitat becomes wet again.
The snails are in decline due to loss or degradation of temporary ponds through infilling, conversion of pools into productive agricultural land, the improvement of sites visually for landscape purposes, pollution from agricultural run-off, encroachment of scrub and the enlargement of small ponds to make permanent water bodies.
Incomplete knowledge of the distrubution of the Pond Mud Snail has inhibited its conservation and this is partially due to living in under-recorded habitats.
The species is classified as Vulnerable in the UK Red Data Books and is on the Scottish Biodiversity List.
'Marvellous Mud Snails' aims to do three things to help the conservation of the species in Scotland:
Educate - raise the profile of the species through events with schools and community groups.
Pond Mud Snail Survey - Buglife aims to increase current knowledge of the species' distribution in Scotland by working with schools and volunteers to look for and record the species. They will be surveying old sites, potential new sites and areas that the snails were once found in.
Captive Breeding Programme - schools will have the chance to get involved with a captive breeding programme to help boost numbers of the snail.
You can read the full article here: https://www.buglife.org.uk/local/marvellous-mud-snails
and more about Pond Mud Snails here https://www.buglife.org.uk/bugs-and-habitats/pond-mud-snail