Tag Archives: winter

Toothed fungus

Toothed fungus emerging from a dead tree in late winter. I really enjoy a tiny fungus that’s just getting started because you can see the small details that are lost in photographs of larger specimens. For this one, it’s all about those yellow-tipped teeth and the translucent, waxy margins. It was growing on a log with hundreds of small, dried brackets so perhaps it’s Steccherinum ochraceum just getting started. But the margins are waxy, not fluffy, so Basidioradulum radula (Schizoporaceae) and Mycoacia fuscoatra (Meruliaceae) might be better ID. Finally, Radulomyces molaris (Pterulaceae) looks similar. And I’m sure there are dozens of other possibilities— there are several million species of fungi.

Colin Purrington Photography: Fungi &emdash; Toothed crust fungus in a bark cave

The above illustrates the flip side of photographing cute, immature fungi … they are hard to ID, especially if you don’t know much about fungi. I’ll have to go back in a few weeks to see what it looks like after some warmer weather. Without spores to examine for shape and size it might be hard to decide, so I really need to invest in a microscope. If you have an opinion on the ID, please leave a comment — I’d be grateful for any tips, even if it’s just a recommendation on a guide book for a newbie.

Colin Purrington Photography: Fungi &emdash; Toothed crust fungus in a bark cave

In trying to learn more about these species, I was struck by how ignored crust fungi are by mycologists and how they are left out of most field guides. The only interesting thing I could find was an article by Dimitrios Floudas lamenting this obscurity:

“The feeling of collecting these fungi is rewarding, but the frequent lack of people to share this excitement is discouraging.” 

Wise words for many taxa, I think.

Here’s a nice guide if you find yourself with an unidentified crust. You never know when that’s going to happen. 

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Snow midge with yellow halteres

Here’s a snow midge I found a few days ago at Hildacy Farm Preserve. I’m not positive about the species, but perhaps Diamesa nivoriunda. I only saw one, but related members of the genus are reported to swarm during the winter. 

What I’d love to know is why the halteres are yellow. They seem to be yellow on majority of diptera I’ve seen, and I’ve never stumbled onto a paper discussing why that is. All I could find was the sentence “Haltere color is often used to distinguish between species” in a Drosophila book .” If you know of a paper, please send link ASAP. Am dying of curiosity.

 Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Snow midge (Diamesa nivoriunda)

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Small winter stonefly

I was out looking for the elusive snow fly yesterday but found this, instead: an eastern stonefly (Allocapnia recta), a member of the Capniidae (small winter stoneflies). At least that’s what I think it is. Larvae are active during the winter, and adults can fly and mate even when temperature is in the teens. Pretty incredible to see them flitting around on a cold day when other insects cannot even move. At Hildacy Farm in Media, PA. Probably emerged from the nearby Crum Creek. 

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Eastern stonefly (Allocapnia recta) Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; Eastern stonefly (Allocapnia recta)

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Snow fly

If you’re out on a nature walk today, keep your eyes peeled for snow flies. These are essentially wingless crane flies loaded with antifreeze. This one is a male Chionea scita, I believe. Not much is known about these insects, although there is speculation that at least some members of the genus hang out in rodent burrows eating feces. (Don’t judge.) Please see “The crane fly genus Chionea in North America” (Byers 1983) for more details.

You might note that it has halteres, which is interesting because these are organs used in flight (they are modified wings … which is why flies only have one pair of wings). Would be fun to figure out whether snow fly halteres still work, though that would have to be inferred by anatomy and maybe some electrophysiological tricks. Or perhaps they serve a new function. To see photographs of some flies that have lost their halteres, check out the Braulidae (bee parasites) or Hippoboscidae ovinus (sheep ked). I love wingless flies. Did a presentation on them when I took entomology during high school … and have been creeped out and impressed by them ever since.

Colin Purrington Photography: Insects &emdash; snow-fly

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