Larch Bolete and Pine Bolete

It’s fully autumn now and despite frosty nights and sometimes cooler days, this is a good time to hunt for mushrooms. At this time of the year, there are many interesting species popping up from the duff, through the moss, the sides of rotting logs, and even from fallen pine needles.

Boletes, a broad term for genera of pore fungi, have been sprouting in the woods these last few weeks. One afternoon in early October I came upon Suillus spectabilis, the larch bolete. It wasn’t a very handsome specimen, as some animal, perhaps a mouse or red squirrel, had taken some big chunks out of the cap. This reddish mushroom grows in conifer swamps where tamarack or larch (coniferous trees in the genus Larix) occur forming an ectomycorrhizal association. Two other Suillus (Suillus cavipes, Suillus grevillei) that also form ectomycorrhizal associations with Larix were noted in the area.

Finding Suillus spectabilis helped to solve another Suillus identification problem. This other Suillus species was growing on some high ground near the edge of the tamarack swamp but also just a few yards away from a white pine the ectomycorrhizal associate another bolete: Suillus spraguei (syn. Suillus pictus). Given the close proximity to two possible symbionts, I wasn’t sure whether this mushroom was growing in association with pine roots or tamarack roots. Now that I had a new red Suillus for comparison, the differences were immediately obvious. I could now add the pine bolete or Suillus spraguei to the fungi checklist.

The differences between the two species, aside from the conifers they associate with, are seen in the cap, pores, and stem. For Suillus spectabilis (see here, here, and here), the cap is reddish with large pink scales; the pore surface is at first yellow, later turning brown; the margin of the cap’s underside is thin and the edge is not inrolled, and the stem is more or less equal in width from top to bottom, fibrillous and reddish.

Suillus spraguei (see here, here, and here) has a cap covered in red-brown scales; the underside is yellowish, later fading to brown; the cap margin is inrolled when young, and the stem may be a little wider at the base than at the top.

Boletes such as Suillus have undergone taxonomic revisions in recent decades clarifying genus and species delineations using molecular phylogeny. The genus is divided into three subgroups: Granulatus, Tomentosus, and Spectabilis. Subgroup Spectabilis includes Suillus spectabilis while subgroup Granulatus includes Suillus spraguei. Members of subgroup Spectabilis form ectomycorrhizal associations with Larix (larch, tamarack) and Pseudotusga (Douglas fir). Those in subgroup Granulatus form ectomycorrhizal associations with Pinus (pines) and one species is ectomycorrhizal with pines and Quercus (oaks). Ectomycorrhizal associations with Pinus in the subgroup Granulatus are further partitioned between two-needle and five-needle pines.


Suillus spraguei

Mushroom Expert

The Bolete Filter

Suillus spectabilis

Mushroom Expert

The Bolete Filter

Suillus Taxonomy

Nhu H. Nguyen, Else C. Vellinga, Thomas D. Bruns, Peter G. Kennedy (2016). Phylogenetic assessment of global Suillus ITS sequences supports morphologically defined species and reveals synonymous and undescribed taxa. Mycologia, 108(6), 2016, pp. 1216–1228. DOI: 10.3852/16-106, 2016 by The Mycological Society of America, Lawrence, KS 66044-8897

Coming attractions

I’m working on a few posts related to fungi and insects. One should be ready next weekend and will feature an unusual beetle that eats bracket fungi and sprays poison on its enemies. And a beautiful beetle, too, will be discussed. The fungi posts will be about some important species found across the northern boreal forests. There are still literature searches going on that lead me down many wandering paths, as well as coalescing all of this information into writing before these are ready to post.

Another fungus eating moth

Metalectra quadrisignata (four-spotted fungus moth) from Carlton County, Minnesota

But not in Tineidae. This moth, Metalectra quadrisignata (four-spotted fungus moth), in the Family Erebidae, Subfamily Boletobiinae is yet another addition to the species checklist. The first syllables in the name Boletobiinae are “bolet” from “bolete” which is a name given to a vast group of species of mushrooms with large caps free from the stems and producing spores from pores, not gills. So, Metalectra quadrisignata is in the Subfamily Mushroom-iinae. Presumably, the larva of many or most of the members in this subfamily are fungivores but full life histories for species is incomplete. Larvae of Metalectra quadrisignata feed on bracket fungi preferring living or actively growing fruiting bodies. What species or even order is not specified. Some photos at Bug Guide show larva on a gilled mushroom and a slime mold which is not a fungus. It is unclear if they larvae were consuming these. I’ll need to start looking more carefully at these types of fungus.

Metalectra quadrisignata (four-spotted fungus moth) found near Cadotte Lake in St. Louis County, Minnesota.

Matalectra quadrisignata is widespread in eastern North America from New Brunswick south to Florida and west to Manitoba and Texas.


Kingdom Animalia (Animals)

Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)

Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)

Class Insecta (Insects)

Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)

Superfamily Noctuoidea (Owlet Moths and kin)

Family Erebidae

Subfamily Boletobiinae

Tribe Boletobiini

Genus Metalectra

Species quadrisignata (Four-spotted Fungus Moth – Hodges#8500)


Bug Guide

Fungus Moths (Subfamily Boletobiinae)

Moth Photographers Group

A new moth – Amydria effrentella

A new moth species for the checklist: Amydria effrentella. I photographed this one on July 23, 2022 during National Moth Week. My first thoughts were that this moth was some member of Family Tortricidae maybe in Olethreutini or Eucosmini two tribes in that family with long narrow-bodied moths. But that was far off the mark as repeated searches on the Moth Photographers Group bore out. All I could tell after that was this moth wasn’t like anything I’d seen yet.

One night I decided to use an image search. Of course, most of the results were wrong, but one tiny thumbnail linked to Bug Guide seemed close. So I clicked it and there was a photo of a moth that looked similar to mine. Amydria effrentella, is a moth in the Family Tineidae (Clothes Moths), Subfamily Acrolophinae (Burrowing Webworm Moths). The Moth Photographers Group provides a range map for Amydria effrentella showing it to be widespread.

Tineidae contains at least nine subfamilies north of Mexico with 190 species in 54 genera. For those genera and species whose life histories are known the larvae feed on things such as fur, feathers, skin, scales, bird and small mammal dung, fungi, lichens, and detritus (detritivores) the dead particulate organic material such as is found in leaf litter. Only a few species are known to feed on living plants.

What little information there is on Amydria effrentella indicates that its larvae typically construct “long silken tubes underground or on/in plant detritus and feeding primarily on plant debris as well as living plants, rarely coprophagous or mycetophagous.” Other reports have found it feeding on dried nest material in the burrows of mountain beavers. Pupation takes place in a coarse cocoon or in the larval tube.


Kingdom Animalia (Animals)

Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)

Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)

Class Insecta (Insects)

Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)

Superfamily Tineoidea (Tubeworm, Bagworm, and Clothes Moths)

Family Tineidae (Clothes Moths)

Subfamily Acrolophinae (Burrowing Webworm Moths)

Genus Amydria

Species effrentella (Amydria effrentella – Hodges#0334)

Sources Cited

Bug Guide

Moth Photographers Group

Neotropical Tineidae. II: Biological Notes and Descriptions of Two New Moths Phoretic on Spiny Pocket Mice in Costa Rica. (Lepidoptera Tineoidea). Donald R. Davis, Dale H. Clayton, Daniel H. Janzen and Anne P. Brooke. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 88(1). 1986. pp. 98-109.

The Tineoidea and Gracillarioidea. (Donald R. Davis & Gaden S. Robinson, 1998) from “Handbook of Zoology / Handbuch der Zoologie