Eye on Nature: Slimy, rubbery stuff and a baffling set of teeth

Ethna Viney responds to your queries, observations and photographs

This slimy, rubbery stuff has been at the often-damp bottom of the driveway of my former home in Donegal. On my last visit in August it had crept much closer to the house.

Daniel Deery, Dungloe, Co Donegal

It is an alga, called nostoc, which swells up after rain. Improved drainage is one solution, or algal control chemicals.

A man-o-war was washed up on Quilty strand in Co Clare.


Danien Ryan, Quilty, Co Clare

I saw this Portuguese man-o-war on Nethertown Beach, Co Wexford (photo above).

Peter Grogan, Palmerstown, Dublin 20

We found this little skeleton in in our garden. The long, curved teeth are baffling us.

Marion Dorgan, Midleton, Co Cork

It is the skull of a young rodent, probably a rat. Dr Paddy Sleeman, UCC mammalogist, explains that when a rodent is young the two front teeth have reserve length to allow for wear during a lifetime of gnawing. In this case they fell forward in their sockets.

This picture was taken in misty conditions on Carrigoona Commons in Co Wicklow. Gently poking the finely woven web failed to raise a spider.

Colum Clarke, Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow

The webs belong to the gorse spider mite. They live inside the webs and can destroy the bush.

On the weed matting at the garden centre, I saw slug tracks endlessly circling, like scribbling. Why?

Aidan Gribbin, Ferns, Co Wicklow

They are slugs mopping up algae or fungi.

Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28F978, or by email at : viney@anu.ie. Please include a postal address