Monday, 3 May 2010

Life on a Brain Fungus

Mites and Springtails on Tremella fuciformis

Yesterday I took a photo of a jelly fungus on a rotting log up in the backyard. Then I noticed that what I thought were specks of dirt were in fact little mites, apparently feeding on the fungus. I tried for some close up shots but the detail is lacking. However you can see they have a shield like process at what, for simplicity, we'll call the shoulder. From what little I can find on the subject, these seem to belong to the family Galumnidae.

It wasn't until I looked at the first photos that I noticed other tiny creatures crawling around. These turned out to be tiny Poduromorph springtails. Having placed some in a container I witnessed one jump at least 5 cm. Quite a feat for an animal a mere 1.8 mm in length.

(Click on photos to enlarge)
White Brain Fungus - Tremella fuciformis
(You can see the mites and springtails more clearly on the larger image)

A Springtail - Order: Poduromorpha - less than 2mm long

Galumnid Mite just over 1 mm long

You can just make out the shield like process at the right shoulder.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Heliotrope Moth (at last)

.....Utetheisa pulchelloides

Yesterday I spotted what looked like a small white butterfly. When I tracked it down to where it had landed I was thrilled to see it was my first Helliotrope moth. For some reason it seemed like every one else was seeing these moths except me. I've waited for four years to see this little beauty of a moth. The common name comes from the fact that they are known to feed on (among other things) the weed Heliotrope - Heliotropium europaeum.

In the evening I put the moth trap out for a few hours and it brought in another two of the moths and a fourth was found in a nearby wattle. So, I guess on average I've now seen one a year since moving back to Australia :-)

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Heliotrope Moth - Utetheisa pulchelloides

Heliotrope Moth - Utetheisa pulchelloides