The Fungus Among Us

I have always found mushrooms fascinating life forms. Not plant, not animal yet vitally important for the health of both plants and animals. However, they are a bugger to photograph yet I never stop trying.

Paul Stamets wrote a great book on Fungus call “Mycellium Running” and delivered a very interesting TED talk several years ago:

At what cost?

A recent article presented on CNN titled “The insect apocalypse is coming: Here’s what you can do about it.” reports that up to 41% of insect species may face extinction in the coming decades. A major source for this article was a study authored by Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex in the UK. His report is titled “Insect Declines and Why They Matter.
Dr Goulsons report begins with a statement which will likely hit home to many of you

“In the last fty years, we have reduced the abundance of wildlife on Earth dramatically. Many species that were once common are now scarce. Much attention focusses on declines of large, charismatic animals, but recent evidence suggests that abundance of insects may have fallen by 50% or more since 1970. This is troubling, because insects are vitally important, as food, pollinators and recyclers amongst other things. Perhaps more frightening, most of us have not noticed that anything has changed. Even those of us who can remember the 1970s, and who are interested in nature, can’t accurately remember how many butterflies or bumblebees there were when we were children.”

We all know that insects, like em or leave em, are responsible for pollination of three quarters of our food crops. Thus we can expect to pay dearly if insect populations decline as predicted.

Dr Goulson is not alone in his assessment of the rate of potential insect decline. A review published by Francisco Sánchez-Bayo and Kris A.G.Wyckhuys titled “Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers” reaches similar conclusions citing habitat loss, pesticide use, invasive species and climate change as primary drives of insect loss.1

Both studies suggest we can do a few things to stem the decline in insect populations like:

1 Plant a garden using plants that attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

2.Create more insect habitat like a log or brush pile. These attract humble insects and invertebrates like woodlice, which recycle nutrients and act as food for birds and small mammals.

3.Voice your opinion to your local authorities. Push for planting native trees that flower on streets and parks and plant wildflowers in road medians.

4. Avoid using pesticides and encourage your friends, family and local government to do the same.

Besides their role in a functional ecosystem insects are darn cool to observe and photograph as well. At what cost we will begin see the beauty of life on earth.

Click on any photo to play slide show.

Reference:
1.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.020

A few links on creating a pollinator friendly garden. Yes we are going into winter but it’s never too early to think about next years garden.

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/news/PollinatorGarden.html
https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/gardening.shtml

a flies eyes

FLies_eyes_1

It is always a surprise when we look closely and find a flies eyes attached to what we thought was a bees body. Using Batesian mimicry to look like a bee when your really a fly a bee-fly mimic and yellow-jacket mmimic enjoy a sip of nectar from a late blooming sedum plant.

Flies_eyes_2

It is always a surprise and reason to take a closer look at the insects in the garden.

 

Hey Daddy-O

Long_daddy_legs_1

Hey daddy-o what’s up?

Just hanging out enjoying the flowers in the garden.

Daddy Long Legs belong to a family of spiders Pholcidae, commonly known as cellar spiders, daddy long-legs spider, granddaddy long-legs spider, carpenter spider, daddy long-legger, vibrating spider and skull spider, is a family of araneomorph spiders first described by Ludwig Carl Christian Koch in 1850. It contains over 1800 species divided in 94 genera.”

Given the huge number of species might explain why we see them running about everywhere in the yard and often in the house all the time.