Sunday, 25 June 2017

#30DaysWild day 25 - The pink arrows and a slime mould investigation

The moth trap was out again last night and we had a bumper catch of hawkmoths. They're our favourite moths as they're big and colourful and look a little bit like jet fighter planes. We caught 8 elephant hawkmoths, a privet hawkmoth and a poplar hawkmoth. It seems like the elephant hawkmoths are having a really good year!

Elephant hawkmoth

Poplar hawkmoth

Privet hawkmoth
We put them all on the shed door, so they could fly away when they were ready. A pattern started to emerge, until we ended up with our own night-time aerobatic display team ... otherwise known as the Pink Arrows!
The Pink Arrows

Lined up on the runway


Hawkmoths really are fantastic!

From the beautiful to the not quite so attractive ...

Slime mould may not be the most glamorous thing in the natural world (let's face it, with slime and mould in your name, you're going to struggle to shine), but it's fascinating stuff. When a large yellow sponge-like one appeared overnight on a wooden sleeper in our garden, Bug Mad Girl couldn't resist investigating further.
The slime mould appeared over night in a sleeper
Slime moulds aren't fungi. They belong to a group of single cell organisms that can live independently, but can also group together when food (bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms) become scarce, to form multicellular structures. They can even move en masse in search of food. This is Fuligo Septica , which has the lovely common name of dog vomit slime mould (although I think if my dog ever threw up that I'd be quite worried).
Dog vomit slime mould
Bug Mad Girl cut a little bit off of it so that she could take a closer look under the microscope. The outer crust looked like a sponge and was harder than the oozing 'melted cheese' inside. It dried out surprisingly quickly, turning crusty where it was exposed to the air.
Looks a bit like melted cheese inside!

Crusty outer layer
Taking a good look

During the day the slime mould dried out and gradually turned harder. It will be completely gone within a day or two.
I love it that she's so curious about so many different types of wildlife! 

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