Could this curious spider be a snake-back? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney lifts the lid on many curious wonders of our natural world

The snake-back spider.

The snake-back spider.

 

When cleaning out an old nesting box I found this spider. Could you identify it? Heather Fleming, Fermoy, Co Cork. 

Answer: It’s the snake-back spider which has been reported from a few places in this country. You can report it with photograph to https://records.biodiversityireland.ie/start-recording.

We have noticed wasps and bees around a cherry tree that is not yet in blossom, what are they after? Liam Cahill, Howth, Co Dublin.

Answer: The wasps and bees are finding honeydew, a sugary substance deposited by aphids.

We have a daily visit from a cock pheasant to our bird feeder. Shaun Connor, Rosses Point, Co Sligo. A cock pheasant visited our garden recently.  Therese Gumbrielle, Clontarf, Dublin 3.

The beautiful cock pheasant.
The beautiful cock pheasant.

For some years we’ve only had an odd grey squirrel in our oak forest. Recently we’ve seen a red squirrel. How can we encourage more reds? Gary Crocker, Glenealy, Co Wicklow.

Answer: An oak forest is not the most attractive place for red squirrels as they can’t digest acorns and the greys can. Red squirrels eat mainly pine seeds.

Can you identify these shells? We found hundreds of them on Woodstown strand, Co Waterford. They were about 8cms long and 5cms at the widest part. Helen Bailly, Dublin 14.

Mysterious shells.
Mysterious shells.

Answer: They are oyster shells and have dredging marks on them. There are oysters beds in the area.

I found this fossil while beachcombing with my seven-year-old daughter on Carrowhubbock beach, Enniscrone, CO Sligo. Scott Walkin, Ballina, Co Mayo.

A fossil discovered while beachcombing in Co Sligo.
A fossil discovered while beachcombing in Co Sligo.

I took this photograph of a “swamp lantern” at Gartan Lake, Co Donegal. What is it?  Tom Hannigan, Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

American skunk cabbage.
American skunk cabbage.

Answer: It’s American skunk cabbage, an invasive alien that escaped from a garden about ninety years ago and is now established here as a wildflower.

During the sunny last week in February this beautiful peacock butterfly was enjoying the sunshine on the flowering heather in my mother’s garden. Frank Vaughan, Terenure, Dublin, 6W

Exquisite peacock butterfly.
Exquisite peacock butterfly.
  • Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at viney@anu.ie. Include a postal address.

Eithne Viney
Thallabawn,
Louisburgh,
Co Mayo,
F28 F978

viney@anu.ie

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.