Triad Park: Fungus (and Butterflies) Among Us

As I have stated before, I have been going to Triad Park for the bulk of my life. Through it all, the park has served as an escape from stress, from home, and from fear. The woods never fail to calm me down. Because I love the park so much, I have taken countless photos throughout the years, documenting my thankfulness for the place. Using the nifty photo storing service, Google Photos (if only this was sponsored I might be out of college debt), I was able to look at every photo that I have taken at the park from as far back as 2016, which coincidentally is the year that I started my college career at Guilford. Looking back through the years, it is easy to see why I keep returning to Triad Park.

The wings of a Luna Moth. (Photo by Ben Clark)

During my walks in the trail, I come across many forms of life. A few times I have seen the wings of a recently eaten Luna Moth. The Actias luna is such a beautiful creature, so it is sort of bittersweet when I stumble upon its wings on the ground. Their mint green tint is what always strikes my eye. This paired with the “luna” part of its name, which reminds me of the moon, is one of the reasons why the Luna Moth is one of my favorite insects.

Papilionidae (Swallowtail Butterfly) sheltering from the rain on the side of a tree. (Photo by Ben Clark)

Another type of insect that is common around the Triad Park area is the Swallowtail Butterfly. I am sure that many of you, my readers, have seen these beauties drifting around your property or other patches of land during your life. What is special about the photo above is that the butterfly was sheltering on the side of a tree from a rain shower, which I was (un)lucky enough to be caught in during a hike in the woods. This was an interesting encounter because the butterfly allowed me to get close enough to take the photo. Looking back on this, it is probably out of survival; it can be damaging to the health of butterflies if their wings get wet, and if they cannot find a place to let the water evaporate off of their wings.

Orange fungi! (Photo by Ben Clark)

Apart from insects, during the muggy months (usually through late July-September), the park becomes speckled with fungi. Whether they’re normal wild mushrooms or fun orange spectacles like the one pictured above, it’s fun to run into these formations and capture them in a photograph. One of the advantages of smartphones is that high-quality cameras are becoming more accessible to a wider audience. The photo above was taken this previous summer (2018). It is interesting to compare the photos from this past summer to earlier summers; fungi wasn’t as plentiful on the trail two years ago as it was last year.

Galaxy shroom. (Photo by Ben Clark)

I am not as fluent in fungus as I am with bird or tree. Because of this, it is hard to properly identify the different types of shrooms and fungus that I encounter on the trail. It adds a bit more excitement to finding these things while hiking because I can create my own names for them. Sometimes you don’t need to put a label on something for it to have meaning. I have fungi to thank for giving me these pieces of fungus-induced knowledge.