The adventuresome life of a Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland dog in Northwestern Ontario

Posts tagged ‘insects’

Fungal Friday 5

Yesterday morning, on our way home from a very interesting walk (we made a new friend!), we were quite surprised to stumble across a Nuclear Power Facility for Ants!

I figure that if Ants have the technology to build huge (relatively speaking) cities underground, then they somehow need to produce energy to fuel them, right?

I figure that if Ants have the technology to build huge (relatively speaking) underground cities, then they somehow need to produce energy to fuel them, right?

I was a bit nervous about giving the structures a sniff, but Elizabeth explained that there was nothing radioactive about them. These are a type of mushroom commonly called ‘Puffballs’. Some two-leggers actually eat them!

According to our research, puffballs are only edible when they are in the immature stage, like this one.

According to our research, puffballs are only edible when they are in the immature stage, like this one.

We aren’t going to try them out this year. Elizabeth wants to learn more about them first.

When this particular species matures (we haven’t identified it properly yet because Elizabeth is too busy getting the garden in to do all the look-ups. SIGH… Dependable help is so hard to find!), it turns to a brownish-grey colour and develops a little hole in the top.

The spores are all inside the mature puffball. The hole allows the spores to escape and scatter whenever pressure is applied to the puffball surface. Poof! Like magic! BOL

The spores – what mushrooms have instead of seeds – are all inside the mature puffball. The hole allows the spores to escape and scatter whenever pressure is applied to the puffball surface. Poof! Like magic! BOL

Elizabeth told me that when she and her brother were two-legger puppies, they would stomp on mature puffballs to release a cloud of spores. She says you have to do it just right, otherwise you just squish the globe. The sport of puffball stomping. Who knew? I would try it myself, but I’m afraid I’ll just end up having a sneezing fit. My nose is a lot closer to the ground than theirs were even back then!

We are finding other weird and wonderful members of the fungi tribe on our woodland walks, too. They seem to like the cool, moist weather we’ve been having. We took some photos for you…

The first ones we found on our Sunday walk were quite strange. I didn’t even see them until Elizabeth noticed a bunch that I had knocked over while I trotted through a patch of Sphagnum Moss. The yellow colour caught her eye.

We think this is Clavulinopsis laeticolor. These are really small - the largest just two or three cm in height.

We think this is Clavulinopsis laeticolor. These are really small – the largest just two or three cm in height.

They were so odd looking that she took a few more photos:

Clavulinopsis laeticolor

Clavulinopsis laeticolor 2

Feeling that we needed to be a bit more scientific with our photos, I thought I’d leave a strand of my wool in the foreground for perspective.

Then we found some little white ones nearby. The things you begin to see when you start observing the forest floor!

Don't they look like a family heading out for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon? These were even smaller than the yellow ones!

Don’t they look like a family heading out for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon? These were even smaller than the yellow ones!

This slightly larger type looks thirsty to me. I think we’ve seen some larger mushrooms similar to this on other excursions.

I wish Elizabeth knew her mushrooms better. She says one day she'll start making a study of them...

I wish Elizabeth knew her mushrooms better. She says one day she’ll start making a study of them… For now, she just enjoys looking.

We will leave you with this pretty group:

These much larger mushrooms reminded Elizabeth of whirling dervishes. What on earth is a whirling dervish?  ~:o/=

These much larger mushrooms reminded Elizabeth of whirling dervishes. What on earth is a whirling dervish? ~:o/=

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Jeudi dans le jardin 5

The gardens are keeping the two-leggers busy now! Take a look at what’s happened over the last week:

The day's harvest on Tuesday. In the dish rack are Aubergines (Eggplants) and Hot Sweet Peppers, and in the basket are Peas and Purple Tomatillos. Elizabeth spent the day in the kitchen making yummy things for two-leggers.

The day’s harvest on Tuesday. In the dish rack are Aubergines (Eggplants) and Hot Sweet Peppers, and in the basket are Peas and Purple Tomatillos. Elizabeth spent the day in the kitchen making yummy things for two-leggers.

Things like Duffus Road Chutney, a recipe invented especially for Elizabeth by her chef friend, Double Dave!

Things like Duffus Road Chutney, a recipe invented especially for Elizabeth by her chef friend, Double Dave!

Many plants in the various gardens are in bloom:

This Calendula bud will probably open tomorrow morning.

This Calendula bud will probably open tomorrow morning.

And this little flower promises more of these...

And this little flower promises more of these…

Black Beauty Sweet Peppers. About time, Elizabeth says. She thought the sweet peppers would never produce this year.

Black Beauty Sweet Peppers. About time, Elizabeth says. She thought the sweet peppers would never produce this year.

And the second crop of Tom Thumb Peas is in flower.

And the second crop of Tom Thumb Peas is in flower.

Look! We've got A CUCUMBER!

Look! We’ve got A CUCUMBER!

Remember the turnip patch? It's filling out very nicely. They like peas, too, it seems.

Remember the turnip patch? It’s filling out very nicely. They like peas, too, it seems.

Not everything is rosy in the garden, though. We have a growing problem… a problem Elizabeth isn’t quite sure how to deal with safely:

We don't like having these around. This wasp's nest is a whopper.

We don’t like having these around. This wasp’s nest is a whopper.

I don’t really like having wasps around either, although they seldom bother me. The big one almost makes up for the nuisance with its unusual character. The entrance is on the side instead of at the bottom. Usually the wasps build them in a less exposed position, too, like the little one, which is almost against the wall of the house. I like the marvelous undulations in the paper and markings of this one, too.

While Elizabeth thinks about what to do about this situation, I looked around the nieghbourhood to see if I could find some help with our insect problem.

Look who I found just around the corner! This Northern Leopard Frog said it would help if it could. He's a bit worried about stings, too, though...

Look who I found just around the corner! This Northern Leopard Frog said it would help if it could. Froggy’s a bit worried about stings, too, though…

I’m going to keep looking, I think. In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of ripening produce to guard, and Elizabeth is keeping very busy in the kitchen getting all the harvest stored for winter. The freezer is filling up fast!

Wildflower Wednesday 12

This is certainly a breezy summer. Elizabeth apologises for the lack of clarity in some of the photos once again. It seems that as soon as there is enough light to shoot, the breeze has come up. For many of these little flowers, the very slightest breath of air sets them swaying. But you should be able to see them clearly enough to identify them, she thinks…

This is one of Elizabeth's favourite wildflowers, Jewelweed - Impatiens capensis

This is one of Elizabeth’s favourite wildflowers, Jewelweed – Impatiens capensis

This is really a very interesting plant for those who spend time in the woods here. Not all of our plants are two-legger friendly. We showed you one called Stinging Nettle the other day. It can give you a nasty rash if it touches your bare skin.

Poison Ivy

This is Poison Ivy – Toxicodendron rydbergii. Don’t ever touch it. Even the latin name says it’s poisonous!

There is another plant that two-leggers here learn to watch out for very early in their lives because it can cause blisters when it touches skin. If those blisters break, and they most likely will because they itch so badly that two-leggers can’t resist scratching them, they release a liquid that spreads the rash. Two-leggers can sometimes end up in hospital in agony and exhaustion once they’ve come into contact with Poison Ivy. It’s so noxious that some people can even pick up a rash from stroking the fur of a pet that has walked through it.

In our attempts to get a flower close-up, we got mooned by a bee.

In our attempts to get a flower close-up, we got mooned by a bee.

Two-legger vets often prescribe calamine lotion to be applied to the area of the rash. Elizabeth has only had Poison Ivy once, and she knows from experience that calamine really doesn’t help that much. She didn’t know about Jewelweed back then, so she can’t say if it’s any more effective but she’s heard that it is. One day she’s going to try using it on a rash. The whole plant can be used; it’s quite succulent. She’s been told to throw it into a blender and puree it, then spread it over the affected area. It’s also said to be very good on insect bites.

Jewelweed likes to grow in moist soil. It’s easy to identify by its beautiful flowers, so take note of it and familiarise yourself with what the plant looks like. It isn’t always in bloom when you may need it!

Growing next to this Jewelweed, we found another plant that likes moist soil, a member of the Mint family:

Hemp Nettle - Galeopsis tetrahit

Hemp Nettle – Galeopsis tetrahit

We found some other medicinal plants today, too.

Mugwort - Artemisia vulgaris is a herb that was brought over to North America by Europeans. It's just considered a weed now.

Mugwort – Artemisia vulgaris is a herb that was brought over to North America by Europeans. It’s just considered a weed now.

It has rather strange flowers, too, not unlike the Field Sagewort we showed you last week.

It has rather strange flowers, too, not unlike the Field Sagewort we showed you last week.

On the edge of the woods we found an interesting composite flower. This plant was thought to aid the setting and healing of broken bones, hence it’s common name.

Common Boneset - Eupatorium perfoliatum

Common Boneset – Eupatorium perfoliatum

Many of the flowers we’ve shown you before have gone to seed now. Some of them look rather beautiful in this state.

Hellow Goatsbeard - Tragopogon dubius

Yellow Goatsbeard – Tragopogon dubius

We didn’t start this series early enough to get a photo of this shrub’s flowers, but today we found some nuts growing!

The squirrels always seem to get these before Elizabeth does. She's going to go out today and pick all the Beaked Hazel Nuts - Corylus cornuta she can find. They will ripen after they are picked.

The squirrels always seem to get these before Elizabeth does. She’s going to go out today and pick all the Beaked Hazel Nuts – Corylus cornuta she can find. They will ripen after they are picked.

If you would like to try picking them, be sure to don a pair of good gardening gloves first. Those hairs on the bract covering the nuts are more like bristles, and they come off easily in two-legger skin. Ouch!

Rabbit-foot Clover is a new flower for us. Elizabeth thought it was a grass until she looked at it closely to see the tell-tale clover leaves on it. They are much narrower than on the other clovers we find here, though. We'll go out and try getting some good flower close-ups for next week.

Rabbit-foot Clover – Trifolium arvense is a new flower for us. Elizabeth thought it was a grass until she looked at it closely to see the tell-tale clover leaves on it. They are much narrower than on the other clovers we find here, though. We’ll go out and try getting some good flower close-ups for next week. She just loved the way the early morning light hit these!

Just as we finished getting this photograph, Kay called us in for breakfast. Too bad. I’d just found a really nice spot to wait while Elizabeth took our photos!

Waiting

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