Amber snails can be a problem in some nursery production sites. Reports or documentation of amber snails have come from nursery production sites in California, Florida, North Carolina, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. Most species of amber snails found in nurseries feed on decaying plant debris, algae and moss but some amber snails can eat suitable plant hosts. The most common hosts affected appear to be hibiscus and Phormium in western nurseries. Euonymus has been reported as a host plant in Europe. Increasingly they are considered a contaminant pest species in shipments, whether direct feeding damage is observed or not.
Amber snails are considered terrestrial snails but are also referred to as semi-aquatic due to the association with water, often inhabiting wet areas such as ponds. They are often small in size but that character, and coloring can be variable within the same species, making identification difficult. There is currently taxonomic research using DNA to identify species. The genera Succinea and Oxyloma are the most frequently named species found in nurseries. Some of the species in the genus Succinea are considered actionable" pests by APHIS.
Information noted at the website, the Living World of Molluscs, mentions that amber snails can lay about 150 eggs which can hatch after one-to-two weeks. They may live for two years.
In the PNW, the most common amber snail found in nurseries, Oxyloma retusa, begins to aestivate, or prepare for a winter hibernation, in late September by climbing up. Look for them on the sides of containers and along the trunks and under leaves in the plant canopy.
National Geographic: Snail Zombies Amber snail infected with trematode parasites are featured in this video.
Animal Diversity Web: Genus Succinea
Itis Report: Succinea
DiscoverLife's extensive list of Succinea
Orstan, A. 2006. The Natural Diet of Oxyloma retusa. TRITON, No. 13, 2006. 36-37.
Wikipedia list of Succinea species.
BioLib's pictures of the European ambersnail, Succinea putris
Page last modified 9/30/11