Monday 1 June 2015

Turkeytails and Stag Beetles

There is a tantalising footnote on Maria Fremlin's wonderful website about the European Stag Beetle Lucanus cervus. She says:

Large horse chestnut tree felled on October 2011, one emergence hole on 1 June 2014. This stump soon developed fruiting bodies of turkey tail Trametes versicolor, which is strongly associated with the presence of stag beetles (unpublished).
Turkeytail is a very common, easy to recognise fungus and I encounter it frequently in the forest, growing from fallen wood and the stumps of felled trees.

Turkeytail on a stump in the Forest of Loches.
What the precise association between Turkeytail and and Stag Beetles is, Maria doesn't reveal, but Lesser Stag Beetle Dorcus parallelipipedus also prefers wood infected with Turkeytail. It seems likely however, based on Maria and others' observations of various stag beetle species, that they eat the mycelia of certain fungi as both larvae and adults. This probably provides the beetles with important nutrients that the fungi makes available through its own 'feeding' on the wood.

 A male Stag Beetle on a wall in Preuilly.
In the course of searching for clues about the association between Turkeytail and Stag Beetles I also discovered that Deborah Harvey et al used ginger root as a lure in aerial traps for adult beetles when they were developing techiques for population monitoring a few years ago.

 Turkeytail Trametes versicolor fungus.
All very intriguing and I await more published research eagerly. And I'll have to be sure to inspect every Turkeytail adorned stump in the forest for signs of Stag Beetles.

A female Stag Beetle in the Forest of Loches.
For a fascinating glimpse into the life of one male Stag Beetle in the next valley to us, see Stanley...his last year by our friend Tim, who writes Aigronne Valley Wildlife.

1 comment:

Le Pré de la Forge said...

Thanks for the link...
Trametes versicolour is also known as "Artist's Pallette##"...
and I must tell Maria that the possible bit of rotten willow that was sitting on our Woodchipio® had T.versicolour on it originally...
she thinks it might have been Stanley's original home.

[##Not to be confumbled with the American "Artist's Pallette" or Conk... which is large enough and hard enough to be used as the real thing]

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