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280 days of Urbpandemonium #111

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One of my favorite habitats is also one of my favorite tags: the great indoors. It may be humanity’s most distinctive invention—millions of more or less fully enclosed climate-controlled spaces, all within a few degrees of temperature and humidity from one another. Human movement and commerce links these spaces to one another—second hand furniture harbors a population of bedbugs, spiders move into milk crates used to store books, a fruit fly hatches in your house from an egg laid on a banana in a warehouse 500 miles away.

Most of these creatures enjoy the same range of temperatures that we do. Many will leave the indoors during favorable weather only to have their descendants move back in when it becomes inclement again. Some of the great indoors is warmer and more humid than humans prefer—greenhouses, boiler rooms, pet stores, and others. Here there may be flies and cockroaches from the African tropics. There is even a tropical mushroom that likes the great indoors.

The yellow flowerpot mushroom Leucocoprinus birnbaumii* thrives in rich warm moist soil, a habitat that describes most potted plants kept indoors. The fungus can’t survive a freeze, so temperate dwellers like myself have to wait for our houseplants to surprise us, rather than finding them outdoors. Plant-fancier message boards are cluttered with panicked queries about this species, whether it is killing the ficus or poisoning the jalapeños in the pot. This fungus causes no harm to the plants it shares habitat with, and the mushroom wilts away in hours after appearing. It should not be considered a serendipitous source of food—the mushroom is known to be toxic and ingesting it results in digestive symptoms.

*“Birnbaum’s colorless poop eater"


The Urban Pantheist

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