Did these jelly blobs really fall during meteor showers? Readers’ nature queries

Éanna Ní Lamhna on an old wives’ tale, dead woodlice and a 14-legged crustacean

Glands of the oviducts of frogs

I came across jelly blobs on a tree stump in Wicklow's Glen of Imaal. Google suggests that they fell from the stars during meteor showers, but surely that can't be true? – Helen Lawless
You are right; that is an old wives' tale. They are the glands of the oviducts of frogs left uneaten by frog predators, so they must taste truly terrible. On exposure to moisture, they swell up, burst and decompose into masses of jelly. With no other traces at all of frog nearby, no wonder Google was confused.

Bootlace fungus

This is growing under a tree in an old church grounds. The photo was taken on in November. – Daniel Challoner
These are clusters of Armillaria mellea – the bootlace or honey fungus – which causes root rot disease in trees and shrubs. It colonises wood by means of black cord-like structures and can be a destructive pathogen in gardens and woodland.

Common sea slater

I found this on the beach near Newcastle, Co Wicklow, and can't find it in any of my books. Can you tell me what it is please? – Angela Mason
It is the common sea slater, Ligia oceanica, a small crustacean that lives high on the upper shore. It has 14 legs.

Male bush cricket

While clearing leaves from a drain, this green insect escaped up the wall, sadly without half its back leg. What is it? – Anita Fennelly
It is a male bush cricket, which has antennae way longer than its body and has its hearing organs on its front legs. It has been recorded in the coastal counties of the south and west.


I regularly find these guys in my porch – almost always dead! What are they and why do they turn up dead? – Gerard Lovett
These are woodlice, and obviously your porch doesn't suit them. They can't survive very dry conditions, or maybe you are washing the porch with something that is poisonous to them.

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