Is it okay to touch a frog, or will we burn its skin? Readers’ nature queries

Eye on Nature: Ethna Viney on caterpillars, carder bees, voles, moths and great mullein

How to handle a frog: don’t use soap beforehand. Just rinse your hands and leave them slightly moist. Photograph: iStock/Getty

How to handle a frog: don’t use soap beforehand. Just rinse your hands and leave them slightly moist. Photograph: iStock/Getty

 

My children were discussing whether you should touch a frog, as it was said that your hands burn its skin.
Amy Walsh
Barnatra, Co Mayo

Frogs absorb practically everything through their skin. Salts, oils, soil and lotions from our hands can irritate the frog’s skin badly. Don’t use soap before handling a frog. Just rinse your hands and leave them slightly moist.

Eyes on nature: the parasitised caterpillar on Maureen Roche’s window; the dark spots are pupae
Eyes on nature: the parasitised caterpillar on Maureen Roche’s window; the dark spots are pupae

I found the strange material in my photograph, which is like wet cotton candy, on my window. The dark spots inside are what appear to be eggs.
Maureen Roche
New Ross, Co Wexford

It seems to be a caterpillar that has been parasitised by an ichneumon fly, a parasitic wasp. It lays its eggs in the caterpillar; they hatch, feed on it and then become pupae, which are in the white stuff.

Eye on nature: the common carder bees nesting in Elizabeth Brookes’s grass
Eye on nature: the common carder bees nesting in Elizabeth Brookes’s grass

I allowed my grass to grow over a year, and when it was cut recently I found a bumblebee nest on the ground.
Elizabeth Brookes, Annascaul, Co Kerry

It looks like the nest of the common carder bee, a bumblebee that nests on the ground and flies until autumn.

I’ve been feeding bank voles this summer, and I’ve noticed a robin that doesn’t fancy sharing with them. The robin attacks them, but the voles don’t seem perturbed.
Thomas Jackson
Derrynane, Co Kerry

Eye on nature: one of the six-spot burnet moths that David Gray saw in Co Sligo
Eye on nature: one of the six-spot burnet moths that David Gray saw in Co Sligo

I came across the beautiful moth in my photograph at Strandhill, Co Sligo. There were more than 20 of them.
David Gray
Belfast

They were the six-spot burnet moth.

Eyes on nature: the great mullein that Des Griffin saw on the Waterford Greenway
Eyes on nature: the great mullein that Des Griffin saw on the Waterford Greenway

I saw the plant in my photograph on the Waterford Greenway, outside the city, and wondered what it was.
Des Griffin
Waterford

It is great mullein, a native species that grows on gravelly banks and waste ground.

Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at viney@anu.ie. Please include a postal address

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