I was doing some yardwork this week and I came across this fine fungi. It produces tiny yellow cups about a tenth of an inch in diameter, often without stalks, that fruit in groups or dense clusters on decaying wood that has lost its bark.
Lemon Disco Fungus is fairly common, but is easily overlooked due to its small size. It is also wide-ranging and can be found in North Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and Central and South America.
Fruit bodies begin as spherical, closed globules, before expanding to become shallowly cupped or disc-shaped. The inner surface becomes smooth and bright yellow, while the outer surface is a more pale yellow. Fruit bodies that are dried are wrinkled and have a dull orangish-brown color. Its species Latin name, citrina, is a derivation of the word citrin – which means “lemon-yellow.”
Like other fungi, Lemon Disco Fungus plays an important part of nature’s continuous rebirth by breaking down dead wood into useful nutrients. Fungi digest their food outside their bodies by releasing enzymes into the surrounding environment and converting organic matter into a form they can absorb; nothing else is able to perform the function of reducing these forest byproducts back down into soil.
It was a nice surprise to come across this tiny treasure on an otherwise ordinary day.
Third Eye Herp
It’s still cold and snowy, but turning over a few logs on the woods can reveal hidden life. This 2-3 inch black millipede has yellow bands separating each segment along its back. It also has very bright yellow legs.
Millipedes are long, multi-segmented creatures that resemble centipedes, but centipedes have only one pair of legs on each segment, while millipedes have two legs on most segments.
Generally found in leaf litter, millipedes tend to avoid light. They do not bite humans. Centipedes and millipedes belong to subphylum Myriapoda, meaning “many footed.”
Millipedes commonly consume rotting vegetation rather than of living plant tissue. Their feeding activities speed up the decomposition of plant materials, playing an important part in Nature’s “recycling” process.
Despite their many legs, millipedes cannot run very fast. They have two main defenses. One is curling up in a ball. The other is emitting a smell. If you pick up a flat millipede, it will often release a scent resembling almonds or cherrys. While this might be pleasant for humans to smell, it apparently is distasteful to some predators.
Fossil evidence suggests that millipedes were the earliest animals to breathe air and make the move from water to land.
Third Eye Herp
While hiking in Brecksville Reservation this week I noticed two dogs romping in an open field. It was not the first time I’ve come across Coyotes in the wild, but it was a nice encounter, because I was able to observe some of their natural behavior.
This mammal is not native to Ohio; we tend to associate Coyotes with the open, deserted lands of the west. But this mammal has the ability to make the best of a bad situation and survive…or even prosper. As its presence in the Buckeye State shows, this versatile animal can make a home most anywhere.
They often will hunt in unrelated (non-family) pairs or large groups. Coyotes typically eat small mammals, but they also consume vegetation and fruit, such as summertime berries. These were very busy listening to mice, voles or shrews tunneling under the snow. It was amusing to watch them as they playfully pounced on prey that they could hear, but not see.
Coyotes have a bushy tail which is usually tipped in black and is carried down at a 45 degree angle as the animal moves. They stand about 1-1/2 to 2 feet tall and are between 41 to 53 inches in length. Males are larger than the females and weigh anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds.
The Coyote’s strength is that it can adapt and exploit almost any habitat to its advantage. It first arrived in Ohio in 1919 and can now be found in all of Ohio’s 88 counties – and they continue to expand their range.
While most wildlife species have avoided developed areas and often declined as a result of man’s expansion, the Coyote seems to be thriving.
Third Eye Herp
Although the Red-tailed Hawk is the most commonly seen raptor in my part of Ohio, I occasionally come across this smaller hawk.
It is rather beautiful, sporting high contrast checkering on its wings, rufous barring on its chest and a boldly banded tail.
Rather than inhabiting open fields, like the Red-tailed Hawk, the Red-shouldered Hawk inhabits bottomland woods, wooded streamsides, swamps. At one time, it was more common than the Red-tailed Hawk, but as forests were cleared, the open areas that resulted were better suited for Red-tails.
This bird usually hunts by watching from a perch, either within forest or in the open, swooping down when it locates prey. Its diet includes includes small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds.
The Red-shouldered Hawk is a dietary generalist, changing its diet to reflect the local or seasonal abundance of different prey species.
This bird builds its nest 20 to 60 feet above the ground in the branches of deciduous trees in wet woodland areas. The nest usually is in a fork about halfway up the trunk and often close to water, such as along a river or stream.
Red-shouldered Hawks are about the size of crows. They show reverse sexual size dimorphism, meaning that females are larger than males.
Its intricate patterns make seeing this bird an enjoyable experience whenever I come across one on a nature hike.
Third Eye Herp