Blushing Rosette

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Sometimes you can find crazy things in your backyard – all you have to do is look. This week I can across this strange organism.

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Abortiporus biennis is a true oddball – a gnarled, messy-looking mass of irregular white pores that exude a reddish juice and bruise reddish brown. There is hardly a cap or a stem to speak of, and as it grows it engulfs sticks and blades of grass.

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This gnarled form of this species is sometimes given the separate species name of “Abortiporus distortus;” it is apparently the most commonly encountered form of the species, though it does have a more normal looking variety with an identifiable cap and stem

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This ground-dwelling polypore often puzzles collectors with its mixture of “normal” shelving clusters and “aberrant” cauliflower-like fruiting bodies.

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Despite the common name “Blushing Rosette,” which refers to the hues seen in many fruiting bodies, the color is actually quite variable, ranging from cream, reddish, ochre, to brown.

Third Eye Herp

Fire-colored Beetle

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This was a neat insect find that I saw while visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Adult Fire-colored Beetles tend to be slow-moving, so they are easy to capture and photograph.

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Most have dark wing covers and orange or red on the head, legs and body. They have long, straight antennae; the antennae of males are often distinct and comb-like.

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The larvae for Fire-colored Beetles can sometimes be found by overturning logs. They look completely different than adult beetles and are long and worm-like with distinct, flattened bodies and horn-like projections on their final segment.

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Little is known about Fire-colored Beetle larvae, but they are believed to be predators and likely feed on other wood-dwelling invertebrates like worms, termites, ants and other beetle larvae. Even less is known about the adult beetles, but they have been observed visiting flowers where they probably feed on pollen and nectar.

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Fire-colored Beetles are an example of a creature that is far more common than we think, yet we know almost nothing about them.

Third Eye Herp

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

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We have been enjoying these Summer visitors. Their helicopter-like aerial acrobatics illustrate surprising maneuverability, as well as the ability to fly in any direction.

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Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are bright emerald or golden-green on the back and crown, and gray-white underneath. Males have a brilliant iridescent red throat that looks dark when they are not in good light.

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These birds only weigh about as much as a nickel and can beat their wings up to 80 times per second. When fully engaged, their heartbeat can accelerate to 1200 beats per minute.

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Hundreds of kinds of hummingbirds nest in the American tropics and more than a dozen in the western United States, but east of the Great Plains, there is only the Ruby-throat. Their stay here is seasonal and coincides with our peak wildflower season.

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This bird’s habitat is open woodlands, forest edges, meadows, parks, gardens and backyards. Like bees, they feed primarily on nectar and extract it via their long bills. Also, like bees, they pollinate the flowers that they visit. They frequent hummingbird feeders and can be quite territorial about them.

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These are engaging visitors and fun to watch during our warmer months here in northeast Ohio.

Third Eye Herp

White-banded Fishing Spider

01 Whitebanded Fishing Spider

While doing yard work I came across this awesome arachnid. This is a sit-and-wait predator with excellent camouflage. It was the first time I’ve ever encountered this species.

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The White-banded Fishing Spider belongs to the Nursery Web Spider Group and is indigenous to the United States. Females, which are somewhat larger than males, can reach nearly an inch in body length.

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Though their color is variable, it is true to its name, with a white band in the area below its eyes, around the jaws and more white bands on its legs and body.

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White-banded Fishing Spiders get their “fishing spider” name because most live near water (I have a creek in my backyard) and have been reported to catch small fish and aquatic insects from the water as they walk on its surface. Instead of building a web to catch its food, this creature goes out and hunts it down.

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Like other Nursery Web Spiders, females carry their egg sac in their jaws before eventually creating a “nursery web” amid foliage, branches and sometimes artificial structures. The female then guards the egg sac and the spiderlings that emerge from it.

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Sometimes you find cool things without even looking for them and that was certainly the case with this White-banded Fishing Spider.

Third Eye Herp