Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Artist's Conk and Forked Fungus Beetle

Artist's Conk, Ganoderma applanatum, is a somewhat common fungus found on rotting trees and stumps.  If you've spent any amount of time in the woods you've probably come across this large, wood-like conk.  It's a perennial structure and adds a new, white spore producing layer on the underside every year.  Cutting through one reveals a stack of brown layers, each layer was a previous years spore producing layer.

A. Broken Artist's Conk showing old layers with new, white spore producing tissue developing.
B. Looking down at the top of an Artist's Conk.
C. Artist's Conks sometimes have these brownish drops on their undersides.  I think it coincides with growth of the new growth, but I don't know what causes it.
D. New growth starting to discoloring with age.
E. Just thought it looks cool.
F. Note the brown spores dusting the bark.
G. Stump full of Artist's Conks 

But a cool as Artist's Conks are, this post is more about an insect that inhabits them: Forked Fungus Beetles, Bolitotherus cornutus.  I've come across these beetles a few times, and they were brought to my attention again this spring.  The spend almost their entire lives on or near Artist's Conks, from egg to adult beetles.

There's actually quite a lot written about Forked Fungus Beetles, so instead of repeating what's already out there, I'll share a few links. 

University of Florida Entomology and Nematology Featured Creatures
Good overview of Forked Fungus Beetles.

Bug Guide
Over one hundred images and some interesting comments.

A Study of the Life History of the Forked Fungus Beetle, Bolitotherus cornutus
Liles, M. Pferrer.  1956.  The Ohio Journal of Science.  Vol. 56, Issue 6
A thorough study.

Even if you don't feel like reading more about the Forked Fungus Beetle, I highly recommend stopping at the next stump with conks you come across and taking the time to look more closely.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rock at Mic Mac Lake

I took my kids to Tettegouche State Park over spring break (first week of April).  We stayed in the park's hike-in cabins.  We did the same trip last year.  This year's trip was decidedly more winter-like.  I'm pretty sure the wind chills were below zero on our hike out.  I was sure it was winter's last hurrah.  But as I write this, we are in the middle of a blizzard.

The rock pictured above was located on Mic Mac Lake, in a little inlet near the cabins.  I think it jutted out into the lake from the edge of bog.  It was covered in a variety of mosses and lichens; each side of the rock featured a slightly different assortment.  I was drawn to the rock when I first spotted it and visited it twice during our trip.  One visit was by myself, and the second was with my youngest daughter.

A. Rock Posy - Rhizoplaca sp.
B. Rock Tripe - Umbilicaria sp.
C. various crustose lichens
D. Rock Shield - Xanthopamelia sp.
E. insect eggs?
F. various moss species

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Equanimous Dinosaur

In the original version of this picture I had the dinosaur looking extremely unhappy.  In my mind it had some knowledge of the large scale extinctions to come.  My youngest daughter suggested a happy dinosaur.  So I tried that out (with eye brows) but figured the dinosaur needed something to be happy about.  Not a momentary or superficial happiness; in the original version of the picture the dinosaur's sadness was deep and penetrating as it contemplated extinction.  So I added the small mammals with the thought that the dinosaur was still thinking about extinction, but in a way that demonstrated a very long view of things, with sympathetic joy and equanimity.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

An Illustrated Life List: American Goldfinch

Inspired by the poem "Goldfinches" by Mary Oliver.

I found the poem in a compilation of bird poems and prose by Mary Oliver entitled "Owls and Other Fantasies".