Lila Higgins grew up playing with snails and slugs in her backyard in England. Now, she gets paid to do it at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA) as the community science manager.
And she wants you to play, too.
“We want people to take pictures of snails,” she says. “Also slugs, don't forget the slugs!”
February marks Snailblitz, an annual event where NHMLA asks Southern California residents to find, photograph, and send pictures of the snails and slugs they see in and around their neighborhood.
“If you live in this area and you find a snail or slug in your backyard, or on a hike, when you're in a park or local mountain, you might be finding a species that is rare or imperiled,” says Higgins.
Snails and slugs are fairly understudied, says Higgins, especially in Southern California. That’s why NHMLA malacologist (that means slug and snail scientist) Dr. Jann Vendetti needs help finding out which species of snails and slugs live in our Southern California area, and where.
Last year, the museum received 1,000 observations and documented 50 different species, from the globally imperiled Hemphill's Westernslug to the Southern Flatcoil snail.
Higgins recommends avoiding touching snails and slugs. If you do, make sure to wash your hands after as they can make you sick.
“If you can take a picture without disturbing them, that's going to be best because then they can just carry on living their happy little snail or slug life,” she says.
Use this downloadable Bingo card to see if you can make enough observations to get five in a row or fill your card. You can track other people’s observations here.