Late Summer: Mushrooms, Spiders, Toads And Other Cool Stuff In Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Late Summer: Mushrooms, Spiders, Toads And Other Cool Stuff In Northeastern Pennsylvania.

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Sorry I have been neglecting my blog lately . There are two reasons, the first, I have been busy at the office and with some other matters and the second, it is mushroom season here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.muchroom-hike-14

When it’s mushroom season I am out in the forests and woodlands looking for wild mushrooms. And, as anyone who has searched for edible wild mushrooms would tell you, we don’t share our secret spots. So I don’t take  landscape photographs which may give them away.mushrooms-30

I was fortunate to have had a Polish  father who knew a few edible species and who loved taking my brothers and I into the wooded strip mining areas and teaching us how to identify them.  I took the skills I was taught  and continued to learn and identify many species of edible mushrooms. I will not attempt to identify them  in this blog since an improper identification can lead to sickness and even death. Yes, many species are deadly, so please don’t try to identify any wild mushroom without the help of an expert. The mushrooms here are shared for their beauty only and please do not think the are edible. some, like this destroying angel will kill you.muchroom-hike-12

I did take my camera and macro lens on  a few of my mushrooms hikes , although it is hard to look for the wild mushrooms and take  photographs at the same time.  It has been a hot and  very dry Summer here, and the mushrooms are not as plentiful as they are some years, when we get plenty of rain,  but I still found many species on my hikes.  And I am proud to say with the help of my nephew Mikey, we have enough to keep alive my dad’s tradition of  drying some “red tops”, a species of bolete mushroom for  soup on Holy Supper on Christmas Eve, This is an old Polish tradition which brought so much joy to our family over the years.  Here is a link to some more  of the many species of mushrooms I found on my hikes these past few weeks.

And here is another link to some more photographs of wild mushrooms I found this Summer

In addition to mushrooms I also find so many other things on my hikes. I feel like a child every time I leave my house, not knowing exactly what I will find. Yesterday, was a good day to be in the woods. It was hot again, it may be our last hot weekend of the year, and I first noticed the increasing number of acorns on the ground. A sure sign the seasons will soon change. macro-walk-22

The leaves on the trees are now showing their age and some are already donning their Fall colors. macro-walk-23

Since it was a dry Summer, there were not a lot of mosquitoes and other flying insects, and not nearly as many spider webs as there are some years, but I did run into a few. Spiders and their webs have always intrigued me, and as a child I would spend hours watching them, as I threw unfortunate ants onto their webs. Yesterday I was more kind and tossed some plant seeds but it sure fooled this orb spider, who thought it was a meal.  spiders-8

I also saw a few of these spiders, daddy long legs, we called them, on my hike. Here is a link to some more photographs of the spiders I encountered on my hike.

There are not many flowers in bloom now, but the ones that are, including this late blooming thistle, still attract bees and other insects. macro-walk-8

I also saw quite a few toads on my hike. I have seen many of this species  of toads before. macro-walk-14

But I have never seen one of these fellows, who was smaller and had a more reddish color. They sure can jump faster than their larger cousins. This one was actually about one third of the size of the one above. macro-walk-18

I found very few mushrooms growing yesterday, it is just too dry this year. macro-walk-16

But, I did spot this unusual creature sitting atop a log. At first I thought it was a leaf but, after taking a closer look, I noticed it moved! I had no idea what  it was at first but, after watching it for awhile, I decided it had to be some type of caterpillar. monkey-slug-caterpillar-3

I  learned, when I got home that it is a monkey slug caterpillar, and develops into a hag moth. I have never seen one before. Here is a link to a youtube video I uploaded of this  strange creature

After spending some time watching the exotic caterpillar I headed back to my car. I didn’t find any edible mushrooms yesterday, but I was, once again, happy to enjoy some of the many wonders of nature found in the  woodlands of Northeastern pennsylvania, including one I never saw before. Well, it’s  time to take another hike today, and, hopefully, I will find something new again. But, even if I don’t I  will be happy seeing  some of the  ‘old’ and familiar  critters, plants and mushrooms I have come to know and love. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike yesterday.



“Nature is my manifestation of God.
I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day’s work.”
Frank Lloyd Wrightmuchroom hike -26