I found this insect outside my backdoor? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney on yellow ophion, turnstones, red underwing moths and green sponge fingers

Yellow ophion wasp

I saw this insect just outside my backdoor. It was about the size of a usual wasp. – Kevin Farnan, Tralee, Co Kerry
It's an ichneumon wasp called the yellow ophion. It is not related to ordinary wasps but is a parasite of the caterpillars of moths.


We saw these tiger-print birds at Poolbeg lighthouse recently, and they were not at all frightened of us. – Ciaran Ryan, Swords, Co Dublin
They are turnstones, small waders that are winter visitors and occasional migrants from their breeding grounds in northern Europe, Iceland and Greenland.

Red underwing moth

I found this butterfly or moth on the side of the house. It seems to have one butterfly and three moth wings. – Brian Hayden, Terenure, Dublin 6
It's the red underwing moth showing upper wings with one pulled back to reveal the underwing.

Caterpillar of the vapourer moth

This creature was on the side of one of my beehives. I put it safely back into the vegetation. – Simon Ó Cróinín, Ráthcairn, Co na Mí
The caterpillar of the vapourer moth will now pupate into a cocoon in which it incorporates the hairs from its body.

Green sponge fingers

I spotted this unusual seaweed in a rock pool near Clonakilty, Co Cork. Its fronds appeared to have a slimy white coating. – John Hurley, Stillorgan, Co Dublin
Prof Michael Guiry tells me that it is an alga, Codium fragile, known as green sponge fingers, It's an alien species probably bought in with shellfish introductions.

Caterpillar of the elephant hawkmoth

I saw this rather large caterpillar on the cliff walk at Kilkee, Co Clare, and would like to know what it is. – Kieron Brennan, Churchtown, Dublin 14
It's the caterpillar of the elephant hawkmoth, a beautiful pink and gold, native moth.

Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at viney@anu.ie. Please include a postal address