Frilled Dogwinkle      Nucella lamellosa



One of several local species of intertidal and shallow subtidal snails called dogwinkles, the highly variable Frilled dogwinkle is differentiated from other similar species by the lack of grooved channels encircling the shell and the lack of colored bands.  In sheltered areas they commonly have thin frills along the shell, but when growing in a wave swept area often the frills are missing.  This snail is a major predator of barnacles, particularly the Acorn barnacle.  It drills a hole in the prey using it's teeth-covered tongue and may also inject a poison.  The snail can then insert it's proboscis and use the tongue to scrape out the meat.  They are sometimes so abundant that they can limit the lower vertical range of barnacles.  It is preyed upon by the Red Rock Crab.  They are commonly found in the one to two inch size, as shown in the photograph, but can reach more than four inches. 


The snail can be found from Alaska to central California in intertidal and shallow subtidal rocky areas of Puget Sound.


The Frilled Dogwinkle can be found in winter or early spring around the low tide line where numerous females (four years old or older) will lay many yellow spindle-shaped eggs about a half inch long attached to rocks in a communal nursery. A female can lay up to 1,000 eggs per year.  After a month or so the young snails pierce the egg capsule and crawl off, however there is high mortality with only around 1 percent reaching one year of age.


A relative of the dogwinkle that lives in the Mediterranean Sea was used by early cultures in the area to produce a dye called Tyrian purple used for coloring the robes of nobility.