Readers’ nature queries: Is this mushroom poisonous?

Ethna Viney on stinkhorn, the small elephant hawkmoth caterpillar and spiny starfish

The fly agaric, Aminata muscaria

The fly agaric, Aminata muscaria

 

I came across this mushroom when out walking. Is it poisonous? – Vanessa Drew, Ballyroney, Co Down
That’s fly agaric, Aminata muscaria, and it is indeed poisonous.

The stinkhorn, Phallus impudicus
The stinkhorn, Phallus impudicus

I took this photo at Powerscourt River Walk last month. A friend identified the fungus as Mutinus caninus. – Sandra Dempsey, Dublin.
Mutinus caninus is the dog stinkhorn. Yours is the stinkhorn, Phallus impudicus, which has a dark top. The dog stinkhorn has a reddish top.

A heron by a pond in Tramore, Co Waterford
A heron by a pond in Tramore, Co Waterford

This heron visited my pond a couple of times recently and spent time preening feathers, sipping from the pond and beak sharpening. There are no fish in the pond, just plants. – Bill Power, Tramore, Co Waterford

The small elephant hawkmoth caterpillar
The small elephant hawkmoth caterpillar

What is this creature? – Pat Stack, Glin, Co Limerick
It’s the caterpillar of the small elephant hawkmoth – smaller and lighter in colour than the caterpillar of the elephant hawkmoth, but with the same “eye spots”.

Just a suggestion of what to do when a wasp gets into the house. Don’t wallop around with a folded newspaper, which will anger the wasp. Hold out a plain sheet of paper to him and he will quietly walk on to it. Then release him outside. – Sive Haughey, Muff, Co Donegal

Sprouting seeds in an apple
Sprouting seeds in an apple

I was eating an apple and cut too close to the seeds when I found that it was already sprouting. – Alec Quinn, Limerick
The seeds were ripe and atmospheric conditions in storage must have been right for sprouting.

Arm of a spiny starfish either shed or lost in a fight.
Arm of a spiny starfish either shed or lost in a fight.

I saw this washed up near a rock pool on Youghal front strand and wondered what it might be. – Triona O’Gorman, Quin, Co Clare
Marine biologist Brendan O'Connor tells me that it an arm of a spiny starfish either shed or lost in a fight.

The rove beetle Staphylinus olens, the devil’s coach-horse also known as the dearg-a-daol in this country.
The rove beetle Staphylinus olens, the devil’s coach-horse also known as the dearg-a-daol in this country.

Eye On Nature has had photos and queries from all over Ireland about the rove beetle Staphylinus olens, the devil’s coach-horse, called the dearg-a-daol in this country. This photo is from Laurence McGivern Raheny, Dublin 5

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.

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