The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Tag Archives: Fungi

Small Green Things

I returned home with three EXTRAORDINARILY DIRTY dogs.  

We are most definitely in the thick of spring thaw.   The ground is hard and crunchy in the shady nooks and sopping wet and muddy in the sunnier ones.  We’ve swung from +16 to -16C in the past week.  The “frozen” patches over bodies of water are deceptively thin…as the small mugsly dog found out (Me: “Um, small dog?  You may wish to reconsider your choice of places to stan…”  SPLASH!  FRANTIC PADDLING IN VERY COLD WATER!  Uproarious laughter of cruel human!)

It was  far too cold for active bugs yesterday; we barely broke the freezing mark.  There is, however, a distinct and lovely new shade of GREEN in my woods.   Moss is growing like gangbusters now that the snow is gone, as are a few teeny-weeny plants. 

In the absence of bugs, today I present Small Things That Are Growing

in the forest:

Raspberry

Looks rather like Bisphorella citrina

New shoots on moss

and in an open field, on bare, exposed rock:

Fern-like moss...is this a moss?

Brilliant green moss

Reddish star-shaped moss

And now I shall scan the link of over 200 moss photos that Susannah provided not long ago, and try to figure some of these out.

Friday Fungi

I’m increasingly amazed by the diversity of fungi I find on my walks, and sometimes even more so by their choice of habitats.  These tiny delicate gems, for example, were cozily nestled with dozens of others beneath the bark of a dead tree, in a gap that couldn’t have been wider than 5 milimeters or so.   The longest of these is only about 3mm long; their “heads” must have been butting right up against the bark.

Itsy-bitsy fungi

Not 20 meters away, on the other end of the growth charts and in a different environment altogether, I found these gorgeous Polypores:

Large Polypore fungi

Bathing in the soft glow of mid-morning light, the colourful caps on these mushrooms were rugged and dense and longer than my hand.

Underside of Polypores

A woodpecker’s near miss, mystery lichen (FUNGUS!) and hidden treasures

I was on a bark-peeling mission today…I found this:   

This pupa was found under bark of a dying tree.

 

The thin, translucent, filamentous fibres of the cocoon encircled the pupa; it was evident where they had once adhered to the tree as well.    

Closeup of cocoon fibres

 

A woodpecker had come very close to finding this tasty morsel hidden beneath the bark…   

The woodpecker's bore hole is on the left; the shallow, pale, oval cavity that held the pupa and cocoon is on the right

 

Other treasures were to be found.  Peeling back bark from another tree revealed striking green lichen fungi growing beneath; I don’t recall ever seeing these before.    

Tiny bright green lichen (fungi?) growing beneath bark

 

I thought initially they were tiny fungi, as they were almost exclusively single, stalked bodies, but in the few “clusters” I saw there appear to be apothecia (spore-forming reproductive bodies) typical of lichens…any experts out there that can help me with these?  Thanks Susannah!  Susannah has solved the mystery for me…these ARE, in fact, the fruiting bodies of fungi: so-called “green stain” fungi,  most likely Chlorociboria aeruginascens.  There is a second green stain fungus, C. aeruginosa, but it is less common; only microscopic examination can distinguish the two species.  The largest of the bodies was approximately 5mm in diameter.  Here is a closeup (this cluster was about 1cm total diameter):   

Closeup of bright green Chlorociboria aeruginascens

 

Now, I have to admit that I was so taken by these little green gems, that I managed to overlook several dozen arthropods sitting about 6 inches away.  For serious.  Here’s a closeup of a crop of a zoom of the first lichen picture, which was taken from about 3 feet away:  

 

Can you see them? Collembola. Grrrr.

 

I’m so annoyed at myself for not seeing these. (*smacks forehead loudly with palm*)  From this super-fuzzy picture and based on their size, they’re springtails (Collembola) of some kind.  Springtails overwinter as adults.  One type, the “snow flea” can be found active and on the snow during warmer winter days, absorbing heat from the sun with their dark-coloured bodies.  These don’t look like snow fleas to me…and they were not active at all, I’m sure I would have noticed had they been moving.   I will check back at that tree next time I’m on walkabout to see if I can capture some proper images.  (*again with the forehead smacking*)

Winter Treasure Hunt (Part 3: the fungus amungus!)

(Continued from Part 2: stories in the snow)

I had brought my clip-on macro lens to the lonely road, not really expecting to find any subjects to try it out on, but then I spotted these:

OMGSHINY!!!

Admittedly, these are not fungi in the true sense; lichens are a composite of a fungus and a photosynthetic partner, like green algae or cyanobacteria.  The partner – capable of harnessing food energy from the sun – feeds the fungus, which is unable to make its own food.  These symbiotic life forms are stunning, especially when viewed close up. 

The lovely dark-centered “cups” are called apothecia; these are reproductive structures, cradling spore-producing hymenium. 

This pinkish-hued foliose (leafy-shaped) lichen’s apothecia look like little pimento-stuffed green olives *hee*.

Another foliose lichen, this time grey.  Foliose lichen are usually only attached to their substate at one central point.   Lichen grow slowly…some as slowly as 0.5mm/year.     They are extremely tolerant to periods of drought, intense cold and heat, and can grow on almost any type of substrate, whether natural or human-made. 

A different type of fruiting body: a podetium.  These grow on little stalks that raise the spores above the surface of the lichen. 

Now, just one more shot of those lovely little cups:

Final instalment of the Winter Treasure Hunt- Part 4: Beetles?????  coming soon!

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