Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Compilation of Forest Findings Spanning Six Weeks of Mostly-Bad Weather for Mushrooms

I wish I had tons of beautiful and wondrous mushroom pics…spring started off with a glorious wet bang, but then it got really, really HOT and there was NO RAIN for WEEKS, so all the mushrooms said, “Catch you later if you can come up with some rain" but I could not make it rain. I did manage to scrounge up other aspects of small forest life over several weeks. There’s a few mushrooms here, from early on.

Here they are, in order of encounter. As ever, click images to view full-screen, revealing marvelous details.

Black Horse Fly (Tabanus atratus)

A giant beast of a horsefly, on a black truck bed liner. This isn’t colorized or anything—that’s just him, steely-grey and sinister. Over an inch long. Look at those eyes! His eyes are his whole head! He was very wary--I barely got this one shot.
*9-13 Edit: This is a male Tabanus atratus, "black horse fly". The females have a little space between their eyes, the males don't. The females bite. The males don't!


A little chanterelle. This was July 9th, and things were starting to get pretty dry…but I did find a nice number of them before it got bad.

Old man of the woods Strobilomyces floccopus

Above, a nice natural composition of Old Man of the Woods mushroom (Strobilomyces), a piece of hickory shell and a little red Russula.

Stan photographing lobster

Above, that’s Stan, photographing a lobster mushroom, which might seem pretty boring, except nobody finds lobster mushrooms around here! But then, I did! And word got out, and Stan, Wild-Edible-Mushroom-Hunter-Supreme-King-of-Kings, asked if I could find the spot again, and I did! He wanted to see the environment they were associated with—what kinds of trees? Overgrown or open?--etc. I mean, if Stan hadn’t found them yet, well, then they just weren’t out there. So let’s just say I was lucky, and I found the first ones ever found around here. We found the stumps of the ones I’d already cut, and I found another one! Look:

Missouri lobster mushroom Hypomyces lactifluorum

You might need to sit down for this next part. Lobster mushrooms--Hypomyces lactifluorum—are actually mushrooms being parasitized by another fungus. The Hypomyces attacks only two “regular” mushrooms--Lactarius or Russula (as far as we know). It turns the surface of the gilled mushroom host into a cooked-lobster orange crust, and makes the flesh white, and they get all gnarly and distorted, and it makes them taste of shellfish.  Don’t believe me? Read Tom Volk’s entry and Mushroom Expert’s entry, and search “lobster mushroom.” It's all true.

Hypomyces lactifluorum LOBSTER 3 on rock
Above, the “gnarly” part I mentioned.

Hypomyces lactifluorum LOBSTER in hand

Well, we have a lot more to cover here, so yes, I ate them, and yes, they were delicious, I hope I find many more, etc., etc.

Missouri snake Misssouri snake-1

Above, a pretty little snake, as yet unidentified. I only have so many field guides. If you know, leave a comment!

partially-skeletonized leaf

A partially skeletonized leaf I found, ravaged by Japanese beetles, I know because I saw them eating other ones (not in the woods).

13-year and dog-day cicada shells

Shell of the periodical Magicicada (left) next to the regular "annual" cicada.

Magicicada and annual cicada shell side-by-side

These weren't out at the same time; I just found their leftover shells. Big long post about Magicicada/13-year Cicadas here.

Lycoperdon perlatum gem-studded puffball

A fresh little Spiny Puffball, Lycoperdon echinatum.

Below, Gem-studded Puffballs, Lycoperdon perlatum.

3 gem-studded puffballs 2 Lycoperdon perlatum

Below, the infamous “dog vomit slime” (Fuligo septica)! For real! That’s what it’s really called!

dog vomit slime mold

Dog vomit slime Fuligo septica

I've found a couple references to these “red, blood-like spots from the liquefied breakdown of fungal tissue”, but I don’t know why dog-vomit slime mold does this, and nobody else does. Doesn't anyone care???

chanterelle harvest

Above, proof of chanterelles. Yes, I rinse my mushrooms (when necessary), because I saw a video of a real live chef trying to figure out once and for all if it mattered if you washed your mushrooms (since most of them have a lot of liquid in them anyway), and he sautéed washed and great un-washed mushrooms at the same time, side by side, and declared that he couldn't find any difference.

Below, a sprawled-out napping squirrel, July 31, one of the very hot days.

napping squirrel

Pandorus sphinx-5

Pandorus sphinx

Above, a Pandorus sphinx moth! I became nearly hysterical when I saw this, because I’d seen pictures of Oleander Hawk Moths, and I thought this was one, even though there’s no Oleander around here (except in pots, as annuals), and I thought they lived in Africa and Asia, and I’d decided that Oleander Hawk Moths were the most beautiful moths I’d ever seen. Look them up, you’ll see.

I was saying hello to a pal and we were out by the parking lot and she said “Look at that big green moth on the wall over there.” Just like that. And I didn't have my camera on me, and I tried using her cell phone but the moth was too high even with a stepladder, and she brought out her real live DSLR camera but the battery was dead, so she gave me a ride home so I could get my camera (I had walked downtown), and I backed my friend’s truck right up to the building so I could stand on it and try to get close enough, and the people inside the store came out and one of them was a guy studying katydids so that was good and he had his camera and we both took some pictures and then I said “Hey, you should try to get him onto your hand and then we can take more pictures maybe closer and it will either get on your hand or fly away but maybe it will fly someplace better” and he tried, and it flew away but it did land someplace better, onto some black metal stairs (closer to where we could reach, at least), so we took more pictures and I was mostly satisfied.

Eumorpha pandorus

Eumorpha pandorus, click to view large, you can see individual scales…gorgeous! The colors! The shape of the wings!

Then, a few days later, I came home and at my front door was this:

Pandorus sphinx moth in a box

I had ranted enough to someone about finding this moth that he told someone else about it, and the guy he was talking to said “Hey, there’s a big dead moth in our stockroom” and came out with this. How sweet!

honeycomb in fallen tree

 Here’s some honeycomb in a      fallen tree in the woods. We  couldn't quite figure out why it    was all exposed like this, if it  was  normal, etc. The bees were  calm,  not like the tree had just  fallen  over or something…

Above, some mushrooms that I haven’t taken the time to ID yet. It’s right on the tip of my brain…

We found a nice fruiting of oyster mushrooms. Below, after we cut off what we wanted, some ants moved in.

close oysters and ants

The ants were very interested in whatever they were finding, I think it was the tiny larvae of beetles that were exposed when we cut the mushrooms. That long flat white thing is a gill--picture a regular store-bought mushroom, cut across the cap. This is one of my favorite images.

2 green acorns

Some very attractive green acorns. Don’t know what kind.

Below, horrible, horrible seed ticks (and one regular horrible tick), on packing tape, that I got off my pants after a hike. First, I found about 15 on my socks, then I started to look more closely at my other clothing.

seed ticks on packing tape

If you click on this, to see full-sized, you can barely see that these have only 6 legs, because when they first hatch, that’s how many legs they have. After their first molt, they have 8. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know.

So I left this on the kitchen counter (no, I don’t know why), and the next day I got curious and looked at them with a viewing loupe, and of course they were still alive, and waving their legs around. Why should they be dead? I read somewhere about ticks surviving things like being kept near-freezing for a year--a year--and then being brought to room-temp, and they just pick up like nothing happened. So I folded the sticky sides together, and smunched it all up, like that would fix anything.

Stay tuned, faithful readers, the fall mushroom parade of beauty and edibility will start soon (if I can figure out how to make it rain. Apparently, closing my eyes tightly and wishing very hard isn't how).