I found a dead Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, Noctua janthe, lying on the path in the greenhouse this morning and, as I’d plugged in my USB microscope to take a closer look at the fungus I decided to take a few shots of the moth too.
The saffron yellow underwings are a striking contrast to the drab upperwings. The border looks as if it has been painted with Impressionist brushstrokes when viewed at 60x.
I suspect that the light blue scales are reflecting daylight from the window.
Zooming in to 200x reveals comb-like ends to the scales.
Coloured scales camouflage the moth when at rest and reveal distracting colours when it is disturbed and it opens its wings. It’s also possible that the coating of scales and the furry edges of the wings help muffle the sound of the moths wingbeats, helping it escape from any bat that hunts by sound alone.
This Ringlet butterfly was a roadside casualty that Barbara spotted when we were in Dalby Forest, North Yorks Moors, last month.
I put it under the microscope to focus on the eye-spots. Each has a bright fleck in the middle, even the smallest of them, which must help give the impression of a gleaming snakelike eye, distracting any attacker either by surprising it or fooling it into pecking the butterfly’s wing instead of its body.
Summer warmth and a few heavy showers have triggered the growth of some small fungi on our dewy back lawn this morning. They’re going to get trimmed off when I get around to cutting the lawn so I pick them to draw and to take some close-ups using my USB microscope.
The cap which is about a centimetre across is smooth with no trace of ridges. It has dark brown gills, which I’d describe as distant as opposed to close or crowded.
In this photograph the gills are emarginate, meaning that there is a notch where they attach to the stem. But the notch isn’t as clear in this cross section of the cap;
The circular stem is hollow and there’s no swelling at its base.
The pattern of growth, as far as I can judge by this little group, is trooping. I couldn’t see any trace of a fairy ring starting to form.
I’m taking spore prints which might help narrow down what kind of fungus it is.
My thanks to Steve Clements for this suggestion;
Most likely a Mottlegill (Panaeolus or Panaeolina) – the commonest one on mown grass round my part of Sheffield is Brown Hay Cap – Panaeolina foenesecii – which is supposed to be slightly hallucinogenic. The spores are blackish, and warted (under the microscope). The gills look mottled under a hand lens.
The Collins Guide calls this species Brown Mottlegill and adds that the ‘dark brown-black’ spores are ‘ellip to lemon-shaped’ which is how they look in 200x photograph that I took with my microscope.