Old photos, new IDs: setting the record straight

When I posted this photo back in September 2009 (‘A late summer’s wander’) I was unsure what species of fungus I’d snapped. Chicken o’ the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) was what I was leaning towards, but I wasn’t 100%. Yesterday I chanced upon a familiar-looking specimen in my mate’s guidebook, Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain & Europe (a Collins Nature Guide). I can now exclusively reveal that the fungus in my photo is a… dyer’s mazegill - Phaeolus schweinitzii (deprecated synonym: Phaeolus spadiceus) - a polypore fungus that forms fruiting bodies on the roots or bases of conifers such as pines, spruces, firs and larches. My specimen was growing at the base of a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in Millstones Wood.

I first posted this photo of a ‘caterpillar’ eating one of the treeblog Set A grey alders (Alnus incana) in October 2009 (‘Two species of caterpillar on the grey alders’). I had no idea what species it was but I believed it to be a caterpillar – i.e. the larval form of a moth or butterfly. I discovered a few weeks ago, again by chance, that this attractive creepy-crawly is actually the larval form of the hazel sawfly a.k.a. birch sawfly (Croesus septentrionalis). The larvae feed on hazel, birch and alder leaves and strike this curvaceous pose when disturbed. Interesting fact: true caterpillars have five pairs of prolegs or less, but hazel sawfly larvae have more than five pairs (see this forum page).

Posted in Miscellany

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