Avoiding poisonous mushrooms in North America


This video is called 10 Poisonous Mushrooms.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

There’s A Fungus Among Us— Here’s How To Avoid Poisonous Mushrooms

Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 by eNature

With fall’s arrival, mushrooms have been popping up all over. And as you might expect, there’s been a sharp increase in reports of people poisoned by eating wild mushrooms.

When we recently tweeted the blog entry below about dealing with poisonous mushrooms, it ended up being one of our most popular tweets ever.

Mushrooms are among the most mysterious of life forms. Some kinds are edible—and delicious. Others cause hallucinations and other psychological and perceptual effects, and have been used in spiritual rituals. Many species are unstudied, their ingestibility unknown. And a number of species contain dangerous toxins, many of which are not yet fully understood.

Every year poison centers and emergency rooms treat people who have been poisoned or made ill by mushrooms. These range from people taking “magic mushrooms” for their hallucinogenic effects to gourmands who have tragically misidentified a species to toddlers who have swallowed mushrooms growing in the backyard.

Unfortunately, no simple test can determine whether a mushroom is edible or poisonous. The only way to be certain is to positively identify the species you have found. Only experience can teach you to recognize characteristics that differentiate edible species from poisonous ones, and with some species you cannot be too careful. Some mushroom hunters will even examine a mushroom’s spores microscopically to be sure their identification is correct.

In short, before you eat any wild mushroom, check every possible feature and clue, consult field guides or scientific literature, and be 100 percent sure of proper identification (consulting experts if necessary). Only those who truly know what they’re doing should even consider eating wild mushrooms. If any doubt remains about the edibility of a species, do not eat it.

Many mushrooms cause mild to severe poisoning, and only a few cause life-threatening illness. Some mushroom toxins affect the central nervous system, others the peripheral nervous system, and most cause mild to severe gastrointestinal upset. Some people react adversely to species that are harmless to most or to species that they have eaten before without ill effects.

Below is a list of mushroom toxins, some of the species that contain them, and a description of the symptoms known to occur. (This is not a comprehensive list of all poisonous mushrooms.) If you suspect you have mushroom poisoning, contact a poison control center (call 1-800-222-1222 or visit the American Association of Poison Control Centers website) and seek medical attention immediately. Bring along samples, preferably uncooked, of the mushrooms you have eaten.

Toxin: Amanitin

Mushrooms: Amanita species including A. phalloides (Death Cap), A. virosa complex (Destroying Angel), A. verna, A. bisporigera, A. ocreata; Galerina species, including G. marginata, G. autumnalis, G. venenata; Lepiota species, including L. josserandii, L. helveola, L. castanea; and Conocybe filaris.

Symptoms of this very dangerous toxin occur 6 to 24 hours (rarely 48 hours) after ingestion, typically in 10 to 14 hours. They include severe abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, lasting for one or more days. A short remission takes place, and the victim may believe he or she has recovered. By the third or fourth day, however, pain recurs, along with liver dysfunction, jaundice, renal failure, convulsions, coma, and without adequate treatment, death within five to ten days. With sustained medical assistance, recovery can take place in one to two weeks. Toxic amanitas have caused about 90 percent of all fatal mushroom poisonings, and 50 percent of those who ingest amanitin die. As a rule of thumb, do not eat any Amanita species, and be especially careful in identifying Amanita look-alikes or any other white mushrooms.

Toxin: Monomethylhydrazine (MMH)

Mushrooms: Gyromitra species, including G. esculenta and G. brunnea; and related Helvella, Verpa, and Cudonia species.

Symptoms occur 6 to 12 hours (rarely 2 hours) after ingestion. They include a bloated feeling, nausea, vomiting, watery or bloody diarrhea, abdominal pains, muscle cramps, faintness, loss of coordination, and in severe cases convulsions, coma, and death. With medical attention, recovery can occur within hours. The toxin, also known as gyromitrin, develops a compound similar to one used in the manufacture of rocket fuel. It is advisable to avoid ingesting any false morels.

Toxin: Orellanin

Mushrooms: Cortinarius species, including C. gentilis and others.

Symptoms occur 3 to 14 days (rarely to 21 days) after ingestion, and ultimately result in acute or chronic renal failure, which can result in death. A kidney transplant is sometimes required, and recovery can take as long as six months. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, thirst, frequent urination, and the sensation of being cold, accompanied by shivering. The seriousness of orellanin poisoning makes it advisable to avoid eating any “little brown mushrooms,” or LBM’s, that resemble Cortinarius species.

Toxin: Muscarine

Mushrooms: Clitocybe species, including C. dealbata and C. dilatata; most Inocybe species; some Boletus species.

Symptoms occur within a half hour and include profuse perspiration, salivation, tears, blurred vision, tunnel vision, abdominal cramps, watery diarrhea, constriction of the pupils, a fall in blood pressure, and slowing of the pulse. Although symptoms usually subside in 6 to 24 hours, severe cases may require hospitalization, and death has been reported in people with preexisting illness.

Toxins: Ibotenic Acid and Muscimol

Mushrooms: Amanita species, including A. muscaria, A. frostiana, A. pantherina.

Symptoms occur 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingestion. They include dizziness, lack of coordination, delusions, staggering, delirium, raving, profuse sweating, muscular cramps and spasms, hyperactivity, and deep sleep. Recovery usually takes place within 4 to 24 hours; some cases require hospitalization. Other Amanita species are implicated in most fatal mushroom poisonings, and it is wise to avoid this genus altogether. Be sure to positively identify any look-alike species before eating them.

Toxin: Coprine

Mushrooms: Coprinus atramentarius, Clitocybe clavipes.

Symptoms are precipitated by the ingestion of alcohol, as a substance in the mushroom inactivates an enzyme that detoxifies alcohol in the system. This effect can occur as long as five days after eating the mushrooms. Symptoms, usually occurring about 30 minutes after the alcohol is taken, include flushing of the face and neck, distension of neck veins, swelling and tingling of hands, a metallic taste in the mouth, palpitations, and a drop in blood pressure. Nausea, vomiting, and sweating may then occur. Recovery is spontaneous and usually occurs within 2 to 4 hours.

Toxins: Psilocybin and Psilocin

Mushrooms: Psilocybe species, including P. baeocystis, P. caerulipes, P. coprophila, P. cubensis, P. cyanescens, P. pelliculosa, P. semilanceata, P. stuntzii; Conocybe smithii; Gymnopilus spectabilis; Panaeolus cyanescens, P. subbalteatus.

These are the toxins that give hallucinogenic mushrooms their effects. The reactions that result from ingesting these mushrooms vary considerably; none should be eaten casually. Symptoms occur within 30 to 60 minutes, rarely as long as 3 hours later. They include mood shifts, which can range from pleasant to apprehensive. Symptoms may often include unmotivated laughter, hilarity, compulsive movements, muscular weakness, drowsiness, visions, then sleep. Recovery usually takes place within six hours. The victim should be assured that the symptoms will pass.

Miscellaneous Toxins

Mushroom: Paxillus involutus

Symptoms occur one to three hours or more after ingestion. They result from a gradually acquired sensitivity to the species, and include destruction of red blood cells, vomiting, diarrhea, cardiovascular irregularity, and possibly kidney failure. They usually disappear in two to four days, but can last much longer in severe cases and may require hospitalization.

Mushroom: Amanita smithiana

Symptoms occur 4 to 11 hours after ingestion, and include abdominal pain and diarrhea, followed by kidney or liver failure. These poisonings are not well studied. They resemble orellanin poisonings, but the onset of symptoms is much quicker.

Gastrointestinal Toxins

A large number of mushrooms can cause gastrointestinal illness. Symptoms occur 30 minutes to 3 hours after ingestion. They include mild to serious and severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Recovery can take several hours or days, depending on the species, the amount eaten, and the health of the victim. Hospitalization is sometimes required.

Some edible mushrooms are also known to cause occasional adverse reactions, even in people who have eaten them before without any side effects. Symptoms occur within 2 hours. They include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Recovery usually takes place within a few hours.

So to sum it up— stay clear of wild mushrooms unless you’ve got expert advice and guidance. The stakes are too high to gamble with your health!

We’ve noticed lots of strange mushrooms recently here in the mid-Atlantic. And have had to keep the dogs from eating them…

Are they showing up in your neck of the woods?

North American Mycological Association website: here.

Why autumn leaves are colourful


This video is called Why Leaves Change Color: Untamed Science.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

What Makes Autumn’s Leaves So Colorful?

Posted on Monday, October 06, 2014 by eNature

Sometime between now and the middle of November, the trees in North America’s eastern broadleaf forests will reach their full fall glory.

From Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and New Hampshire’s White Mountains to the Shenandoah Valley and beyond, leaf peepers will bring traffic to a standstill on beautiful fall weekends. By the carful and busload, they’ll come to gawk at the beautiful countryside.

But what will they be seeing? How do leaves end up in such spectacular colors?

Hidden Colors

Leaf color arises from various chemicals within trees. It’s the strength as well as the presence or absence of compounds like tannins, xanthophylls, and carotenes that determines fall hues in the scores of tree species found in the East.

Back in the spring and summer, when the millions of trees in these same woodlands were busily growing and producing food, their leaves were chock full of chlorophyll, and it was the chlorophyll that colored the forests varying shades of green. But chlorophyll is a mask, and once trees sense the change in the weather and start to stop chlorophyll production, the mask drops and the other colors of the leaves come to the forefront.

A Color For Every Tree

The fall colors can be so distinctive in some tree species that it’s possible to identify these trees from a distance merely by noting their hues. The brilliant red leaves belong to the Red Maple, American Mountain Ash, and Black Tupelo, plus sumacs, blueberries, and Virginia Creeper in the understory. Richer red foliage is typical of Red Oak, Scarlet Oak, and White Oak. Birches and beeches sparkle with bright yellow foliage, while Witch Hazel and Striped Maple are a less intense yellow, and walnuts, hickories and aspens attain a truly golden glow.

Of course, not all trees settle on a single color. Sugar Maples, for example, blaze in green, yellow, orange, and startling red, and Sassafras comes in various shades of red, orange, yellow, and purple.

If you want to enjoy the fall colors yourself, plan ahead and, if possible, venture out during the week as opposed to on a crowded weekend.

No matter when you go, though, spend a little time outside your car. The trees are even prettier close-up, along a quiet trail or down a less traveled side road.

Have you had time to enjoy Fall’s colors this year?

We always enjoy hearing about your experiences.

Monarch butterflies’ ancestry, new research


This video is about monarch butterfly migration.

From Science News:

Monarch butterflies’ ancestors migrated

The insects originated in North America, genetics study finds

BY Kate Baggaley

5:06pm, October 1, 2014

The earliest monarch butterflies arose in North America and were migratory, contrary to what scientists believed. Over time, the butterflies evolved populations in other locations, some of which stay put year-round, scientists conclude October 1 in Nature.

Because many of the monarch’s closest butterfly relatives live in the tropics and do not migrate, “the thought was that the butterflies [came] from South and Central America and became migratory from resident populations,” says Tyler Flockhart, a conservation biologist who concentrates on monarchs at the University of Guelph in Canada. “But that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

North American fish in the Netherlands


This video from the USA about Atlantic croakers says about itself:

River fish – Baby Croakers

10 August 2014

Croakers — hundreds of them — are everywhere. They are cute and unfortunately for them, taste good. We let them go.

Translated from Ecomare museum in the Netherlands:

A fish that looks like an Eurasian ruffe and makes a croaking sound can really only be one species; an Atlantic croaker. These fish normally live along the Atlantic coast of North America. Every now and then one is caught in the Netherlands. Until now, they were known from the North Sea and the Marsdiep. On September 9 Jan van Triest of the fishing boat HK17 caught one in the Markermeer lake, near Lelystad. This is the first catch from really fresh water.

Save monarch butterflies, petition


This video is called Amazing Life Cycle of a Monarch Butterfly.

From eNature.com in the USA:

Save Monarch Butterflies Sign Our Petition To Help Protect This Iconic Species! Take action today!
Monarch

Their fluttering migration covers wide swaths of North America. But now their populations are crashing.

Please sign our petition encouraging measures to protect our remaining Monarchs!

Dear Friend,

Monarch butterflies urgently need your help. This iconic, orange-and-black beauty was once common in backyards across the country… but its population has plummeted by 90 percent from the 20-year average.

You can help protect our Monarch butterflies by signing this petition!

Monarch

These delicate creatures weigh less than a gram, but every year they travel thousands of miles — from Canada down to Mexico — in an incredible, multigenerational migration. Generations of schoolchildren have learned about metamorphosis by watching monarch caterpillars transform into butterflies.

But the milkweed that monarchs depend on for survival is now being wiped out by genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant crops, as well as pesticides, human development and climate change

Please sign our petition asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act before it’s too late. A “threatened” listing (not as dire a listing as “endangered”) will allow important research and educational activities to continue while protecting this iconic pollinator for future generations.

Will you sign our petition urging action to protect our remaining Monarchs from the threats that may bring their extiction?

Adding your voice to the effort to protect Monarchs will make a difference. Don’t let our Monarch butterflies become only a memory in regions where they were once ubiquitous.

Sign this petition if you agree that our world would be a poorer place without Monarch butterflies.

Thank you for your help– it really can help make a difference!

Sincerely,

Robin McVey

Robin McVey
Public Editor, eNature.com

Take action today!

Spotted skunks in North America, dancing and stinking


This video, recorded in North America, says about itself:

Enter the amazing world of the spotted skunk with this brilliant clip from BBC wildlife show ‘Weird Nature‘. A chance to see skunk defences at first hand, this short video includes images of a spotted skunk performing foot stomping, hand stands, and predatory spraying to ward off potential attackers.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

The Spotted Skunk Is One Talented, But Smelly Acrobat

Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 by eNature

The skunk that most of us in the U.S. know best, the Striped skunk, is just an entry-level stinker.

Its cousin, the Spotted skunk, possesses an even more potent musk. And the Spotted skunk is also the better entertainer.

A Seldom Seen Skunk

The smallest skunks found in North America, Spotted skunks are sleek, fast, and skilled climbers. They’re highly nocturnal, too, which means that few of us ever see them.

One of the two sub-species, Western Spotted or Eastern Spotted skunk, can be found in most of the continental U.S. There’s very little difference between two sub-species, although the Eastern tends to be slightly larger than the Western.

These skunks’ nocturnal nature means that while we’re spared their malodorous weapon, we’re deprived their acrobatic performances. These start when the spotted skunk feels itself threatened.

Fancy Dancers

First, the animal rapidly stomps the ground with its forefeet. Next, quite remarkably, it rises up on its front legs and performs one or more handstands. And if the threat persists, the skunk will drop back onto all fours, curve its body so that both front and back ends face the interloper, and deliver a blast of skunk musk up to 16 feet away.

The video above, from the BBC show Weird Nature, shows the Spotted skunk performing its distinctive dance, although it’s in an unusual setting. Researchers speculate that this performance (which they refer to as a demonstration) has evolved as a warning to predators and other animals. Once a would-be predator has seen it and then been sprayed, the thinking is that subsequent demonstrations act as warnings and discourage further attempts at predation.

It all sounds quite entertaining, as long as you’re not on the receiving end!

What To Do If The Unfortunate Happens?

The malodorous oil that skunks spray is produced by glands around the anus. The secretion of Spotted skunks differs from that of Striped skunks— and can actually smell stronger if water is used to remove it. One of the most effective ways to remove the oil’s unpleasant smell is to oxidize the active elements in it with baking soda or hydrogen peroxide when bathing humans or pets.

Have you encountered a Spotted Skunk, or even a Striped one? We’ve heard many good skunk stories over the years and would enjoy hearing yours.

Monarch butterfly migration starting in North America


This video is about monarch butterfly migration.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

The Monarch Butterflies Migrating Now Aren’t The Ones You Saw Last Spring

Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2014 by eNature

Fall is just around the corner throughout most of North America.

You’ve probably noticed that your local birds are preparing for it— and so are our many of our butterflies.

Monarch butterflies are famous for their annual migrations. Some of these insects travel thousands of miles each fall—an astonishing distance for such fragile creatures.

Yet few people realize that the Monarchs we see in the spring are not necessarily the same ones that fluttered past in the fall.

Beginning in late September, the skies along the Gulf Coast of Texas slowly become filled with meandering groups of Monarchs. Their flight, while not hurried, is purposeful, moving southwest toward a small forest in the highlands of Central Mexico. These butterflies travel from southern Canada and the northern United States at a rate of approximately 50 miles per day. They’ll spend the winter in a few small groves of evergreen trees, with each grove containing as many as 20 million butterflies. Sheltered from the wind and snow, the butterflies conserve energy, for they still have a lot of work ahead of them.

The Monarchs become active again in February. Mating begins, and the air fills with swirling masses of copulating pairs. The first warm days of late March trigger their northward flight. A close look at these butterflies, now eight months old, reveals that their wings are faded and tattered. Still, the Monarchs fan out across the southern United States, looking for Milkweed plants on which to deposit their eggs.

Four days later, the eggs hatch, producing small caterpillars that immediately begin to feed on the Milkweed leaves. Ten to fifteen days later, each caterpillar stops feeding and forms its chrysalis—a beautiful soft green jewel flecked with gold. In another ten to fifteen days the chrysalis splits open, and a new Monarch emerges.

This generation of butterflies mates, lays eggs, and dies within the span of a few weeks. During this time it moves north, following the progress of spring and the emergence of Milkweed.

By the end of summer, two more of these short-lived generations will have repeated the process, ultimately coming to inhabit the Milkweed patches in the far north latitudes.

Thus the Monarchs born in the Northeast and Canada in September are the great great grandchildren of the last Monarchs to inhabit the area. These are the ones that will head to Mexico. They’re significantly larger than the three generations that preceded them and still sexually immature. Rather than mate and lay eggs, they seek out nectar-producing flowers. The nectar serves two purposes: some of it fuels the southward migration, and some of it is converted to fat reserves that sustain the butterflies through the winter.

This incredible annual cycle applies to all Monarchs east of the Rockies. The populations in the West follow a similar pattern, though their migratory path is westward, from the Great Basin to overwintering sites along the Pacific Coast.

Since 1992 MonarchWatch has been carefully tracking Monarch Butterflies as they migrate.  Much of their data comes from the work of volunteers who tag and track the butterflies. They can always use more helpers…..

Are you seeing butterflies in your neighborhood?