Seven years ago, my daughter gave me a miniature iron birdbath, suitable for a miniature succulent. I left it in a corner until I could buy a plant for it, but when I looked next, it had a lush, green mound of native moss growing, so I let it be. The moss grew there happily until this very dry summer, when it turned brown, shrivelled, and finally blew away in a lump when the fall winds came. It came to rest behind some plant pots and I left it again, until I do the final fall clean-up in the garden.
I noticed it again today; it was full size and bright green again.
I brought it in to look it over in the light. It's in full leaf, and the fruiting bodies are standing tall above it. And climbing on a stem was a bright, white spark.
|Sporophytes on red stalks. With the light spots, they look like long-necked, long-beaked birds.|
|A mini-aphid. With the flash, it was pure, burnt-out white; here I am using the flash at 1/16 normal strength, with a diffuser added.|
|It has something clinging to one antenna. The two up-pointing "tails" are little tubes, called siphunuculi. They may help with defense.|
|Heading down into the moss jungle.|
The moss (and aphid) is now outside again. Tomorrow, I'll replant it in the birdbath.