Can you identify this beautiful fungus? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney on harlequin ladybirds, buff-tailed bumblebees and swallows

Auricularia auricula-judea, jelly ear fungus

Auricularia auricula-judea, jelly ear fungus

 

I saw this unusual ladybird on December 27th in a garden in Co Carlow. Is it an invasive species?
Michael Duffy, Ongar, Dublin 15

Ladybird
Ladybird

I think this is a harlequin ladybird, which crawled across my kitchen floor. I know that they are an invasive species, so what should I do?
Martina Dempsey, Wexford
It is not the invasive alien harlequin ladybird. Both are the eyed ladybird, which is widespread in Britain and found mainly in Leinster in this country. It frequents conifers.

Can you identify this beautiful fungus, which is growing on a log pile in our yard?
Liz Butler, Naas, Co Kildare
It’s Auricularia auricula-judea, jelly ear fungus, also commonly called Jew’s ear because of an early misspelling of Judas. It is edible, though without much flavour, and is used in Chinese soup recipes.

Auricularia auricula-judea, jelly ear fungus
Auricularia auricula-judea, jelly ear fungus

This bee was buzzing around our allotment on December 30th. It was cleaning its legs and wings and performing some lengthy stretches in the sun. We wondered if it was a a queen emerging.
Emma Pallant, London N6
The bee is most likely the buff-tailed bumblebee and, yes, a queen that emerged early because of the unseasonably warm weather. She was grooming herself after hibernation.

Bumblebee
Bumblebee

It was so mild in Kerry on December 28th that the honey bees were flying and feeding on mahonia.
Tara Robinson, Killorglin, Co Kerry

There have been a two swallows on the river Corrib between Nimmo’s Pier and the Salmon Weir for the last few months. On December 27th they were joined by two more. Have they any chance of survival? There is still a lot of insect life around the river: brown trout were rising to small black flies on December 18th.
Niall O’Donoghue, Galway
The swallows will survive only if a cold spell doesn’t kill off the flying insects.

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

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.