Daedalochila auriculata (Say, 1818) Ocala Liptooth On Pacetti Road At Six Mile Creek

St. Johns County, Florida

    On July 29, 2008 this reporter conducted a survey of western St. Johns County in an attempt to locate additional sites housing a population of the elusive Daedalochila auriculata. During the trip it was decided to check the area of the Pacetti Road (also known as Country Road 13A) bridge over the headwaters of Six Mile Creek due to the habitat similarity to other locations where the species had been found. The southeastern bridge approach was investigated first, and within minutes a single empty Daedalochila auriculata shell was found in the swale (GPS: 29.54296N 081.29313W - WGS-84 Datum). Ultimately a total of 24 empty shells was located - a couple of which appeared to be recently deceased. The other three bridge approaches were also investigated, but only the southeastern approach had evidence of Daedalochila. Return visits were made to the site on 8/15/2008 and 9/7/2008, and a total of five additional empty shells were found. Following a heavy rain, a return visit was made to the site on 9/21/2008 and two live Daedalochila auriculata were found beneath vegetation in the roadside swale as well as three additional empty shells.

    Between the fall of 2008 and the summer of 2009 the site was re-visited on a periodic basis. These visits yielded only an occasional empty Daedalochila shell. Finally during a visit on 8/4/2009, six live Daedalochila auriculata were found in heavy vegetation near the water immediately adjacent to the bridge. A brief follow-up visit to the site on 8/7/2009 yielded a further two live specimens as well as two empty shells. Additional follow-up visits on 8/11/2009 and 8/16/2009 yielded seven and eleven additional live specimens, respectively, plus additional empty shells on both dates. During a more extensive visit on 8/19/2009, over twenty-six additional specimens were found.

    The large number of live specimens found during such a short period of time suggested that the Daedalochila population was much larger than the previous year's monitoring had indicated. Thus on 8/22/2009 an additional visit was made to the area of the bridge and the three remaining bridge approaches were again checked to see if Daedalochila were in fact present but had previously been overlooked. Five empty shells were subsequently found on the northwestern bridge approach, two empty shells and two live specimens were found on the northeastern bridge approach, three empty shells were found on the southwestern bridge approach and a dozen additional live specimens and several empty shells were found on the southeastern bridge approach. The number of live specimens found at the Pacetti Road site during the month of August, 2009 easily surpasses the number of live specimens cumulatively found at the other known Daedalochila auriculata sites in St. Johns County since regular monitoring of the locations began in late June, 2008.

    A word of caution - The roadside swale at the Pacetti Road site abuts a portion of the Six Mile Creek flood plain which houses a large population of the venomous Florida Cottonmouth [Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti]. During periods of high water the vipers can be found in roadside vegetation, the same area that is home to the Daedalochila auriculata, as they seek higher ground. The snakes tend to hold their position and not flee at the approach of man or even when prodded. (see image)

    Two lots of preserved specimens from the Pacetti Road site have been deposited in the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Florida - catalog numbers 433939 and 433940.

Juvenile Daedalochila auriculata showing the periostracal hairs

Daedalochila auriculata in situ on southwestern bridge approach - 12/7/2009

Southeast bridge approach (image, right) where the Daedalochila were found (7/29/2008)

Southeast bridge approach (image, right) where the Daedalochila were found (7/29/2008)


Page Two