What creature produces these mermaids’ purses? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney on the devil’s coach horse and a pursuit between a squirrel and a pine marten

While walking on Curracloe beach in Wexford I came across a large number of mermaids' purses. What animals are these from? – Cora McCormack, Clane, Co Kildare

They are the egg cases of various members of the different rays and skates.

I came across this insect in a field by the Liffey. It was nearly 2 inches long, and its tail pointed up as though to sting when poked. – Finn O'Dwyer, Strawberry Beds, Dublin 20

It’s a rove beetle called the devil’s coach horse, also known as the dearg a daol.


We found this moth on the window sill; could you identify it for me please? – Isobel Fleming, Crossmaglen, Co Down

The scalloped oak moth varies in colour from cream to brick.

My son Michael spotted this beautiful creature at Seapoint, and when we looked around we saw loads of them. Is it a beadlet anemone? We saw some above the waterline with their tentacles retracted. – Ian Brunswick, Sandymount, Dublin 4

It is the beadlet anemone in its strawberry form. It can be brown, red, orange or green, and has about 200 retractable tentacles.

I saw this cormorant drying its wings on the Grand Canal near Clondalkin. I was delighted to see it so close. – Patricia Clarke, Cherry Orchard, Dublin 10

As I finished a walk on the side of Slievenamon, a red squirrel came bounding through the bracken pursued by a pine marten. The squirrel scrambled up a tree to the smallest limb, the pine marten climbed in the ivy on the tree trunk. A stand-off ensued about 60ft up, the squirrel making a "chut-chut" sound while the pursuer had a deep "murr". – Joe Burke, Fethard, Co Tipperary

The smaller branch would not support the pine marten.