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280 days of Urbpandemonium #47

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I picked a wine cap mushroom, a nice fresh one that looked like it would make a good spore print. I looked at the gills, they were purple and intact, but I could see something wedged in them. It was some kind of insect larva. There are many kinds of beetles and flies that lay eggs in mushrooms, allowing their young to develop enveloped in the nourishing safety of fungus flesh.

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I carefully worked it out of its refuge with my knife, and was surprised to see what appeared to me to be a caterpillar. I posted these photos on a caterpillar identification group on facebook, and someone quickly pointed out that I was barking up the wrong tree. This larva has no distinct head, meaning it is not a lepidopteran, but a dipteran. This baby fly is in the Syrphidae* family--hover flies and flower flies. Syrphid larvae are predators--aphid killers come to mind. What was this one doing in the lamellae of a mushroom? Dunno, but possibly it was hunting fungus gnat maggots or other tiny prey. Have any entomologists out there heard of mushroom-dwelling syrphids?

* From Ancient Greek σύρφος (súrphos, “gnat, winged ant”)

Running music

I just got back from a run and I want to share the music that was shuffled at me. It's a range of tempos and moods, but all VERY intense:

behind the clickyCollapse )

3:00 snapshot #1995: Thursday

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May 21, 2015, at the zoo.

280 days of Urbpandemonium #46

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There are a number of small dark globose spiders found in New England that have the misfortune of being confused with Lactrodectus (widow) spiders. None are dangerous, and like almost all spiders, rightly perceive humans as huge lumbering threatening beasts. When I tried to catch this one, she folded her legs against her body and held still, becoming a tiny tumbling football. When I was finally able to pick her up, she spent all of her time trying desperately to get away. This is one of the Steatoda* group of cobweb spiders, spiders which are not uncommonly found indoors. She may be S. grossa**, S. borealis***, or S. bipunctata****.

*Steatoda literally means “tallowy” in latinized Greek, but it is assumed that Sundevall was going for something more like “rotund or globose” (Cameron 2005).

** grossa means "big," or "big and plump" referring to the female's abdomen

*** borealis means "northern"

**** bipunctata means "two-spotted"

3:00 snapshot #1994: Wednesday

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This summer, Franklin Park Zoo has a camel ride. This is the camel handler, and his male dromedary Nero.

280 days of Urbpandemonium #45

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The first really "mushroomy" mushroom of the year is this one: shaped like an umbrella, yellowish-white stalk, purplish cap, thick and robust and sprouting from wood chips.

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The partial veil that protected the lilac gills when the mushroom was young persists on the stalk as a rough ring. In age, the cap goes from incurved and bell-shaped to convex, to allow spores at the center of the gills to get free.

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Pulled out of the substrate, the mushroom brings along its rhizomorph (root-like) mycelium). The fungus feeds on fecal coliform bacteria, and catches nematodes, as well as breaking down wood chips for energy. This species Stropharia rugoso-annulata* is a European native that lives in North America only in human-made environments: mulch beds, gardens, and wood-chipped pathways.

*"Stropharia" refers to a sword belt--a reference to the partial veil remnant on the stalk. "rugoso-annulata" means "rough-ringed," which refers to the same field marking.

3:00 snapshot #1993: Tuesday

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Lookin' tough with my golf cart.

Outdoor tapirs

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Baird's tapirs Moli and her mom Abby, enjoying some time in the outdoor exhibit.


"Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Nature has been trying to kill us off for a long time."

This will be written somewhere prominently in the tomes of my Dark Pantheist Nature Death Cult.

3:00 snapshot #1992: Monday

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Sloth exhibit, sloth keeper.


The Urban Pantheist

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May 2015



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