What’s this canalside creature? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney on giant puffballs, burying beetles and a human-skull-sized fungus

Spotted on a bush beside the Grand Canal

Spotted on a bush beside the Grand Canal

 

Could you identify this tiny animal, which I spotted on a bush beside the Grand Canal? – Eddie Bracken, Tullamore, Co Offaly
It’s a bank vole, an alien rodent now spreading countrywide.

We spotted this beautiful insect on Reen Beach, Derrynane, Co Kerry. What is it? – Andrew McGahey, Sutton, Dublin 13
It looks very like a very rare longhorn beetle, the musk beetle, Aromia moschata, which comes in green, coppery or blue. A coppery coloured one was reported in Glengarriff in 2014, the first since 1902, and in Co Down in 1988.

This is a photo of two ripe loquats (nispero), which were grown in Limerick for the first time. Evidence of a changing climate? – Michael MacNamara, Castleconnell, Limerick

This fungus, the size of a human skull, appeared overnight in our garden. – Derek Egan, Portarlington, Co Laois.
This is one of several reports of the giant puffball.

In mid-August these greenish, pouch-like substances appeared on stones thrown into bogland near our house. They reminded me of the pouches of petrol used for cigarette lighters in days gone by. – Ernan O’Donnell, Glenties, Co Donegal
That’s nostoc, a blue-green alga that is found mainly on limestone. It appears when there is heavy rain and you can hardly see the crust when it’s dry.

This flying insect landed inside our house and looked very like a striped ant with wings. It seemed clumsier than a wasp, with its lower body hanging down in flight.
– Orla and Hamish Cloonan, Blessington, Co Wicklow
It’s the solitary field digger wasp, Mellinus arvensis, which nests in sand soil and gathers in hoverflies for its larvae.

This insect flew into our house and we wondered what it was. – Zoe and Annie Smith, Delgany, Co Wicklow
It’s one of the burying or sexton beetles of the Nicrophorus family. They are carnivorous scavengers and they fly well, as you can see from the wings not yet retracted.

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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