Wednesday, 10 October 2012

More fungi and other autumnal species

The fungal season is progressing well, which is unsurprising given the amount of rain we've had this year. In no particular order we have:

Tremella mesenterica, otherwise known as Witches Butter or Yellow Brain fungus:

Witches Butter
I usually find T. mesenterica on dead branches of Gorse, although the Tremella is actually parasitic on Peniophora sp. crust fungi which are decomposers of the dead Gorse, so this is a double dependency.

Just for the challenge, I took a shot of the Tremella spores:

Spores of Tremella mesenterica at x400

On the same branch, I noticed some microscopic Lachnum virgineum:

Lachnum virgineum
These cups are 1-2 mm diameter, and absolutely beautiful. New to my species list.

I noticed these yellow marks on the leaf of Creeping Buttercup, and immediately knew I had found something new:

Leaf of Creeping Buttercup, showing yellow indications of fungal attack

I turned the leaf over and saw this sporulating fungus:

Urocystis ranunculi on Creeping Buttercup
The description of Urocystis ranunculi reads: "Sori in leaves and stems of R. repens as silvery blisters which burst to expose black masses of spore balls." I cannot imagine a more accurate description. There is only one previous record from Ireland, and that was in 1946. New to my species list.

The spores of Urocystis ranunculi are interesting: each round, brown spore is accompanied by some transparent sterile cells the same size as the spore (top right and mid left):

Spores of Urocystis ranunculi x400

Taphrina tosquinetii is a leaf gall of Alder:

Taphrina tosquinetii on Alder
The fungus enlarges the surface area of the leaf in order to create more area for spore production. The remaining normal part of the leaf can be seen to the left.

The Harvestman Mitopus morio doesn't make a web: it lies in wait and jumps out on prey when triggered by movement. It usually (?always) uses one leg as a movement detector. In this case, it's the right rear leg, which has been crossed over and suspended from the right second-from-rear leg, presumably to heighten sensitivity:

Harvestman waiting for prey

I found this solitary sawfly larva on Alder:
Sawfly larva on Alder

I think it might be Nematus viridissimus, but I'm waiting for confirmation, since I haven't seen this before.

We had a single night of frost last week and every night since then has produced a few November Moths:

November Moth - Epirrita dilutata
These can emerge from late September to November, but this is the earliest I have seen them. Larvae feed on leaves of numerous trees.

1 comment:

Toffeeapple said...

A very full and exciting post Stuart. Well done on the two 'firsts'.