The Daily Bucket is a place where we can post and exchange our observations about the natural happenings in our neighborhoods. Birds, bugs, blossoms and more - each notation is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the natural patterns that are unwinding around us.Since the rain started in mid October here in the Pacific Northwest, our humble wet season creatures have been hard at work in my lawn - dissolving, chewing, slurping and absorbing. I was literally tripping over mushrooms, which on closer look, show signs of further recycling.
The shrooms, while flamboyant, are at end stage. The fungi, that woke up with the rains and sent out tiny strands of hyphae throughout the soil, burst through the turf recently in fruiting bodies. Considering how many species I see, it's quite a network of those invisible strands proliferating under there. But there's plenty to decompose in the lawn, which I will admit is only about half grass (plus moss, dandelions, buttercups...) and not over-frequently mowed. Grass clippings, leaves, fir and pine needles, bat droppings, bird droppings and feathers, vole remains - and these are just some of what I can see. It's a buffet out there for a decomposers.
But for whatever reason - the onset of winter frosts? a built in time frame? - the fungus grows up out of the turf as a visible mushroom, opens its pores or gills, and lets its spores disperse in any way possible out there.
Notice the divets in these mushrooms? The spent recyclers are being recycled themselves by the local banana slugs (Ariolimax columbianus). Here's a handsome fellow:
Banana slugs are our friends. They are west-coast natives, and detritus feeders, unlike the invasive European black slugs which preferentially prey on living plants. During the gardening season, it's a constant battle keeping those invasive herbivorous slugs from devouring the food we are growing. As fast as I dispatch them new ones appear out of the nearby woods. But the banana slugs are rarely in the garden, and while I don't always see them at work, I can see where they've been scraping their meals, these days feasting on abundant fungal fruiting body tissue. They also help disperse the fungal spores.
What's at work in your lawn? Have shrooms or slugs?