Author Archives: John Valo

Eastern forktail (Ischnura verticalis)

eastern forktail
Photo by Alfredo Colon

Eastern forktail (Ischnura verticalis) is a small, narrow-winged damselfly. It occurs east of the Rocky Mountains from Quebec and Georgia in the east to Manitoba and New Mexico in the west. It is very common in the northeast and Midwest, present but uncommon in the southern tier of states. It is abundant in Minnesota, where it has been reported in 81 of the state’s 87 counties.

Eastern forktail has three color variations. Adult males are mostly black with green eye spots and pale blue shoulder stripes, sides of the thorax, and tip of the abdomen. Adult females are entirely pale powdery blue with larger blue eyespots and few other noticeable markings. Immature females are black with orange markings.

Eastern forktail may be the most common damselfly in our area, as it is reported to be in and around Chicago.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/eastern_forktail.html

Purple Bordered Leaf Spot (Phyllosticta minima)

Purple Bordered Leaf Spot

Phyllosticta minima is a common and widespread fungus. It occurs in eastern North America and west to the Great Plains. It causes a disease known as Purple Bordered Leaf Spot on maples. It infects mostly Amur, Japanese, red, and silver maple, but also mountain and sugar maple, and in other areas, Tartarian and sycamore maple.

The infected leaf develops small, round, tan spots with purple or brown margins. Tiny, black, pimple-like fruiting bodies form in each spot. The dead tissue in the middle of the spot sometimes breaks away, leaving a small hole.

Infections are most common in wet years and on the bottom third of the tree. Some infected leaves may eventually turn brown and drop off the tree, but most trees are able to withstand the infection. Control involves removing leaves with spots from the tree, and raking up and removing fallen leaves. That prevents further infections in the current growing season, and reduces the number of infected leaves that will overwinter.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Fungi/Purple_Bordered_Leaf_Spot.html

Millipede Cylindroiulus caeruleocinctus

Photo by Alfredo Colon

Cylindroiulus caeruleocinctus is a large millipede native to western and northern Europe, Scandinavia, and the United Kingdom. Human activities have greatly contributed to the dispersal of this species. Its range continues to expand east and southeast in Europe. It was recently found for the first time in Hungary. It was introduced into North America and now occurs across northern United States and southern Canada.

Adults are worm-like, and cylindrical. They have more than 32 body segments (rings). Each ring is brownish-black with bronze-colored edges. This species is distinguished from similar millipedes by its large size and by the lack of a pointed projection on the last body segment.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Centipedes/millipede_(Cylindroiulus_caeruleocinctus).html

Honeycomb coral slime mold (Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa)

honeycomb coral slime mold
Photo by Alfredo Colon

Protostelid slime molds are relatively unknown and easily overlooked. They were first recognized in the early 1960s and have been little studied since. There are 36 currently accepted species, and possibly twice that number of undescribed species. Most are microscopic. Only a few are visible to the naked eye.

Honeycomb coral slime mold (Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa) is the most commonly encountered protostelid slime mold and may be the most common slime mold of any kind in the world. It occurs on every continent except Greenland and Antarctica. It is found in forests on rotting fallen logs and branches. It can form extensive colonies one meter or more long. It is very short lived, appearing after a soaking rain and disintegrating in just a few days.

Honeycomb coral slime mold first appears as a thin, watery, translucent, mucus-like layer, creeping across the wood, engulfing bacteria, protozoa, and particles of nonliving organic matter. Eventually it fruits, forming clusters of erect, translucent columns. The columns have a frosted or powdery appearance due to a dense covering of tiny, white, spores on long, thread-like stalks.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Slime_Molds/honeycomb_coral_slime_mold.html

Gray field slug (Deroceras reticulatum)

gray field slug
Photo by Alfredo Colon

Gray field slug (Deroceras reticulatum), also known as milky slug, is a common, exotic, terrestrial, smooth land slug. It is native to northern Europe, North Africa, and the Atlantic islands. It was introduced into North America and now occurs across the continent. It is most common in southern Canada and northern United States. It can be a serious crop pest, but is not listed as invasive nationally or in Minnesota. It is usually found above ground but under stones or leaf litter in open areas, especially cultivated areas.

Gray field slug is stout, 1⅜″ to 2″ long and white, cream, gray, or tan. When at rest, the body is contracted and the tentacles are retracted. When traveling, the body is stretched out, the tentacles are extended, and it exudes a clear mucus. When disturbed, it exudes white mucus over its entire body, leading to one of its common names, milky slug.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Birds/Red-breasted_Nuthatch.html

Orange-banded arion (Arion fasciatus)

orange-banded arion

Photo by Alfredo Colon

Orange-banded arion (Arion fasciatus) is a common, exotic, land slug. It is native to northern Europe and was introduced into North America during the colonial era. It has slowly spread from New England north to Quebec, south to North Carolina, and west to Minnesota. It is listed as invasive in Wisconsin, but not in Minnesota and not nationally. It is found in ground litter and on herbaceous plants in forests, wet meadows adjacent to streams, and open and cultivated areas, including old fields and gardens.

Orange-banded arion is 1¼″ to 2″ long and slender when extended, short and bell-shaped when contracted. It is grayish to yellowish-brown and is covered with rows of pale bumps, giving it a granular appearance. There are two lateral, dark, blurry, longitudinal stripes. The area just below each stripe is yellowish, and the area below that is whitish. The head and tentacles are black.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Snails/orange-banded_arion.html

European earwig

Photo by Alfredo Colon

European earwig (Forficula auricularia) is native to Europe, western Asia, and North Africa. It was introduced into North America in 1907 or earlier and spread quickly, hitchhiking in vehicles and in shipments from other countries. It is now found across the continent and is the most abundant earwig in North America. Adults are omnivorous, feeding on live and dead small insects and on living and dead plant matter.

A common myth is that the name earwig refers to the insects crawling into the ears of sleeping human beings. In fact, it refers to the shape on the unfolded, semicircular hindwing, which vaguely resembles a human ear.

Earwigs are easily identified by the elongated body and long, forcep-like appendages at the end of the body. European earwig is distinguished by the brown coloration; antennae with 14 segments; and the second segment of the end part of each leg with a lobe at the end that is expanded both to the side and forward under the third segment.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/European_earwig.html

Gilled Polypore (Lenzites betulina)

Gilled Polypore

Photo by Luciearl

Gilled Polypore (Lenzites betulina) looks very much like a Turkey Tail but the pore surface on the underside has gills. It is widespread across Europe, Asia, and North and South America. In the United States it is very common from the East Coast to the Great Lakes states, south to Texas, and on the West Coast. It is less common in Minnesota where it is at the western edge of its range. It is found usually in overlapping rows or columns on logs and stumps of a wide variety of hardwoods, especially oak and willow.

The name Gilled Polypore sounds like an oxymoron but accurately describes this mushroom. The fruiting body is a small, fan-shaped to nearly round, shelf-like bracket. The upper surface is concentrically zoned with varying textures and and colors, and is densely hairy. The gills are white when young but darken as they age. The flesh is thin, tough, and inedible.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Fungi/Gilled_Polypore.html

Common green lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea)

common green lacewing

Photo by Alfredo Colon

Common green lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea) is a very common, medium-sized, net-winged insect. It occurs in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and North and South America. True to its common name, it is the most common green lacewing (family Chrysopidae).

Adults have a long, slender, pale green body, long antennae, gold or copper-colored eyes, and transparent wings with a network of pale green veins. They are not predacious, feeding on flower nectar and pollen and on aphid honeydew. They are active at night and are attracted to lights. They may emit an unpleasant odor when handled.

Larvae are alligator-like in appearance. They have long, sickle-shaped mandibles and well-developed legs which allow them to move quickly. They are predacious, feeding mostly on aphids but also on many other insect adults, larvae, and eggs.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Insects/common_green_lacewing.html

Tree Lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria)

Tree Lungwort

Photo by Luciearl

Tree Lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria) is common in the northeast and north-central regions on Minnesota. It is found on trees, mossy rocks, and wood in mature coniferous and deciduous forests. It is sensitive to atmospheric pollution and is considered a good indicator of a rich, healthy, unpolluted forest.

Tree Lungwort is leaf-like and is divided into large lobes. The lobes are often attached at just one end and hang loosely. They are pale brown to olive-brown and papery when dry, bright green and leathery when wet or moist. The upper surface has a conspicuous network of ridges and depressions.

Tree Lungwort is a favorite food source for moose in northeast United States. It was once thought by herbalists to be a remedy for tuberculosis because it resembles lung tissue.

http://www.minnesotaseasons.com/Fungi/Tree_Lungwort.html