Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The Benefits of being Hermaphrodite
It's seed-sowing time again - a time of hope and expectation, tempered only by the knowledge that the garden snail population is waking up too, ready to chew its way through all that tender new growth. Some time ago I devised a way of reducing the garden snail population by giving them somewhere to spend the winter where they could easily be found (click here) and then transported into the countryside. These two, caught in the act of mating, are a couple that I missed.
Garden snails Helix aspersa are hermaphrodite but nevertheless exchange sperm, as these two are doing. Being hermaphrodite is one of the secrets of their success because it means that every individual in the population can lay eggs and produce offspring; if animals exist as separate genders, either male or female, only half the population can lay eggs.
Click here to see some images of snail eggs and click here to see the baby snails that emerged from them.