What is this unusual insect? Readers' nature queries

Your questions and observations answered by Ethna Viney


Q. Last month I spotted lots of these alien, cone-like plants growing along the shore in the docks area of Belfast. They were all growing through stones.

James Shannon, Belfast.

A. They are the early shoots of horsetail, an ancient plant that is the bane of gardeners when it gets in. It doesn't have flowers.

Larva of a caddis fly

Q. I saw this creature in our pond. It was about 25mm long.


Mike Egan, Ballivor, Co Meath

A. It is the larva of a caddis fly that has camouflaged itself with debris including sand, leaves and small shells.

Q. I spotted this unusual insect on my wall.

John McCarthy, Corbally, Limerick.

A. It is one of the ichneumon flies which are parasitic on the young stages of other insects. This one is the sabre wasp, Rhyssa persuassoria which lays its eggs in the larvae of the horntail or wood wasp that lays its eggs in the trunks of pine trees.

Fledgling goldcrest

Q. This little bird lives in the bush beside my mother's TV room. It flew into the house and I took a photo of it.

Diana Dunne, Newcastle, Co Wicklow.

A. It is a fledgling goldcrest.

Q. Recently I noticed a lot of bees flying around and at least 50 bees in the cotoneaster in our back yard. I also saw bees flying into holes in the redbrick wall of one of our terrace houses.

Maireád Delamere, Inchicore, Dublin 8.

A. The latter were solitary bees that make nests in holes in walls, and are useful pollinators.

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