Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Bee invasion

Submitted by Terry Heller

June 2015

Readers Write

Want to comment on a story? Email Readers Write and include the name of the community from which you are writing.

Bees invading hummingbird feeders

We have a problem with bees going on our hummingbird feeder up at our cabin near Black River Falls. I have to take the feeders down for they chase away all the hummingbirds. We also had a downy woodpecker up on our hummingbird feeder

Terry Heller
Black River Falls

Abbott's sphinx moth caterpillar

Submitted by Frances Weigelt

Adults are typically viewable in Wisconsin between May and June. This little guy, when fully grown, will have a strong yellow band and in flight, the moth buzzes like a bee!

Frances Weigelt

Bear enjoys nice outdoor sit

Submitted by Roger Stoddard

My game camera took this picture a few days before my first Wisconsin bear hunt. The timer on the camera indicated it was taken when I started my ATV to come check the bait. The cabin is a quarter mile away! This bear is on alert!

Roger Stoddard

Hairy mushrooms on mushrooms

Submitted by Tony Lukken

Early last fall I stumbled across these mushrooms growing on a piece of oak firewood in a shady spot on my property. It was early morning and the dew had collected on the hairs of the mushrooms and made them sparkle in the morning sunshine. The hairs were approximately 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. I have never seen this type of mushroom before or since. I've tried unsuccessfully to look for these on the internet. Can you tell me what they are?

Tony Lukken
Twin Lakes

What you have run across is an example of a fungus growing on another fungus. The sparkling hairs that you see are really a fungus growing through the cap of the typical looking mushroom underneath. The capped mushroom is most likely Mycena haematopus. Mycena is a large genus of mushrooms that are often hard to identify to a specific species. However, the species Mycena haematopus is easier to recognize than most, since it produces a reddish liquid when squeezed and has the nickname of "bleeding Mycena." The "hairs" growing out of the Mycena cap belong to the species Spinellus fusiger. If you were to look closely at these fibers, you would see that their tops look like pin-heads. These pin-heads contain the spores of the Spinellus. When dispersed, these spores are the seeds that will produce more of the fungus. Your photo nicely illustrates two of the several ecological lifestyles that the fascinating fungi can have. The Mycena is a saprobe helping to break down the wood of the log, while the Spinellus is a parasite living off of the Mycena. For more information and a bit of fun, see Tom Volk's fungus of the month where University of Wisconsin-La Crosse mycologist Tom Volk ponders which mushroom to select for his "Fungus of the Month" to commemorate Einstein's 125th birthday in 2004. He finally settle on — you guessed it — the wild-haired Spinellus fusiger.

Northern water snake does the fishing

Submitted by Jim Voss

While fishing last June in the Elkhorn area, I had the unique experience of landing a catch that was both interesting and a bit unnerving. As I reeled in what I expected to be your average 7-inch bluegill, my line went thump! There are also some pretty sizable bass in the lake I was fishing, so I thought "GAME ON," and began reeling in harder. When I got my prize to shore, I was surprised to find my 7-inch bluegill and a 3-foot-long snake attempting to steal it! This snake tried and tried to eat the fish for approximately 45 minutes before giving up. What type of snake is this?

Jim Voss

Jim, thank you for your photo. We've identified this snake as a northern water snake, and they have been known to latch onto angler's catches in the past. Thanks for capturing this moment!

Fishing lures — moving away from lead

I just finished a few articles in the February issue of your magazine. I was disappointed to read the information on summer walleye fishing, specifically when Mr. Uttech recommends using "leaded jigs," when it is well known what a hazard lead is to waterfowl. I think the writer and your magazine missed an opportunity to educate your readers who may still be unaware of the damage lead does to these birds and to encourage people to use safer alternatives.

Irv Berlin

A wild parsnip project

Wild parsnip plant. © David Eagan

Wild parsnip burn. © Sara Lowe

Don't get burned. But if you do, consider participating in our wild parsnip survey. Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine invites you to help with a year-long project to update the "Burned by wild parsnip" articles from June 1999 and June 2000 — with a new article in June 2016.

Wild parsnip is the yellow-flowered, non-native biennial weed (Pastinaca sativa) that causes "phyto-photo-dermatitis" — painful, burning red rashes and blisters that form when the juice from leaves, stems or flowers gets on your skin in the presence of sunlight. Within 24 to 48 hours, the symptoms appear.

This summer, we are asking for reader assistance with several parts of the research. Please send, via email to David Eagan or Natasha Kassulke, any or all of the following:

  • Tales of any burning encounters with wild parsnip or other skin-burning wild or garden plants (such as cow parsnip and angelica, both native species, which carry the same chemical).
  • Photos of blisters or burns.
  • Effective treatment methods or products used to reduce the pain or quicken healing.
  • Evidence of wild parsnip growing in the counties missing from the Wisconsin State Herbarium collection. Currently, there are no specimens from 23 Wisconsin counties (listed below). Attach clear photos of the plant and/or email a request for instructions on how to collect, press and label a specimen. If prepared properly and submitted, your name and specimen may become part of Wisconsin's botanical history.

*Missing counties are: Adams, Barron, Buffalo, Burnett, Clark, Dunn, Eau Claire, Iron, Kenosha, Langlade, Marathon, Marquette, Menominee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Polk, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, St. Croix, Vilas, Washburn and Waukesha.

For information on the plant and its hazards, see the two articles: “Burned by wild parsnip”, and “Wild parsnip II”.

David Eagan is an honorary fellow with the Wisconsin State Herbarium, Department of Botany, University of Wisconsin-Madison.