Sooty mould and honeydew

01 June 2022 | All News » Fungi Friday

The blackened trunks and foliage of trees amongst beech and manuka/kanuka vegetation is a common sight in parts of Abel Tasman National Park and is known as sooty mould. The mould comprises of species of fungi that thrive on “honeydew”– a sugary excretion produced by tiny scale insects that tap into the tree and feed on its sap. Looking up close you may see long translucent tubes emerging from the black layer, with a drop of sweet honeydew on the end. Honeydew feeds birds, fungi, and insects. It is also a favourite of the invasive wasp, which not only eats the nectar, but also the tube, killing the scale insect. Wasps can consume up to 90% of available honeydew, reducing the amount of food in the ecosystem that supports our native creatures. These sooty mould infested trees were seen by DOC ranger Deb Price in The Totaranui area and Canaan Downs.

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