Eye on Nature: Your notes and queries for Ethna Viney

Red cage fungus, desert locusts and solitary bees

Red cage fungus Clathus Ruber

Several of these tennis-ball-sized fungi are growing in my garden. They rot and burst to reveal a red honeycombed centre, which flies are devouring.

Mary Hegarty, Clontarf, Dublin 3

Mycologist Kieran Connolly has confirmed that they are red cage fungus, Clathrus ruber. He said that the previous Irish records have also been from the Clontarf area. It is common in central and southern Europe but is spreading northwards.

I put a piece of melon out in my yard thinking the small birds might like to nibble. Later, when it was dark, I found it covered in earwigs. Apart from the few eating in the photo, they were all around on the pavement, almost inert, so I had to prod them into movement. Not dead, but drunk?


Marie McSweeney, Drogheda, Co Louth

Well, wasps get drunk when they binge on sweet substances at the end of the season.

I found this creature clinging to the door of my shop. Checking Google, it appears to be a desert locust. I have found that the pet shop nearby sells them as food for reptiles.

John Morrissey, Clonmel, Co Tipperary

This insect appears to be nesting in a metal pole in my yard. It seems to be a solitary insect.

Kevin Costello, Tulla, Co Clare.

It is the solitary bee, the patchwork leaf-cutter, Megachile centucularis. The female cuts discs from leaves and glues them together with saliva to make cells for her larvae.

Earlier this month, while picking wild raspberries, I came across these thin black caterpillars singly and in clumps on perished nettles.

Joe Barry, Macroom, Co Cork

They were the caterpillars of the peacock butterfly .

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