Eye on Nature: Whelk egg case, frogspawn, ladybirds and funnel web

Your notes and queries for Eanna Ní Lamhna

I saw lots of these washed up on the beach at Portrane. What is it? Will it poison my dog, who was eating it? Cliona Kelly

Although it may look like it, this is not a piece of plastic bubble wrap, and your dog will be grand. It is the empty egg case of the common whelk, a sea snail. Each bubble contained an egg when the mass was created, but it is empty now as the young have already hatched.

I saw this frogspawn last week in Lough Cummeenoughter in the Magillycuddy Reeks, which at 707 metres is apparently the highest lake in Ireland. Derek Brady

Frogs are very widely distributed in Ireland. They return to the body of water where they originated in order to breed. Contrary to popular misconception, frogspawn can be collected by hand and brought into schools for educational purposes. The licence for this can be downloaded by teachers and educators from the National Parks and Wildlife Service website.

This photograph, taken in early March, is of a cluster of ladybirds on a fruit bush. Mary Dowling, Co Cork

These ladybirds have overwintered in a cluster and are all set now to carry out depredations on the aphids and greenflies, which will appear when the leaves open. Bug hotels increase the amount of hibernating habitat for overwintering invertebrates such as these.

I discovered this on a tie on the top of an oil tank in the shed. The hole at the entrance is 25mm across. Frank Folan, Co Clare

Good that your oil tank is getting some use. This is a funnel web, spun by a member of the house spider group. These spiders spin extensive, closely woven sheets of silk with a tubular funnel into which it retreats.

Terry Flanagan sent in this picture of a live badger emerging from its sett. Badgers have excellent senses of smell and hearing.

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