What’s this caterpillar called? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney on the large yellow underwing moth, sea beans, rove beetles and a swarm of honey bees

Tiger moth caterpillar

Tiger moth caterpillar

 

I saw this caterpillar on the road. What is it?– Sean Gavin, Ballyconneely, Co Galway
It is the caterpillar of the garden tiger moth.

The large yellow underwing moth
The large yellow underwing moth

I found this flightless (presumably female) moth locally in mid-June. Could you identify it? – Richard Hollinshead, Celbridge, Co Kildare
Moths Ireland identified it as the large yellow underwing moth, just emerged from the pupa so the wings were not fully unfurled.

Fasciation of ribwort plantain
Fasciation of ribwort plantain

I came across this multi-headed ribwort plantain recently. Can you explain it? – Audrey O’Flaherty, Swords, Co Dublin
It’s called fasciation and caused by an imbalance of hormones in the growing point. This can be caused by bacterial or viral infection or by mutation.

Sea bean
Sea bean
The common blue jellyfish, Cyanea lamarckii
The common blue jellyfish, Cyanea lamarckii

What is this tough-skinned seed found on Inishbofin? And what is this purple jellyfish also found there? – Barbara Browne, Knockmore, Co Mayo
Called sea beans or sea hearts, they are the seeds of a climbing bean that grows on the shores of tropical America and the West Indies. They are carried here on the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Drift. The purple jellyfish is the common blue jellyfish, Cyanea lamarckii, the same family as the much larger lion’s mane and, like it, has a very severe sting.

The rove beetle, Staphylinus dimidiaticornis
The rove beetle, Staphylinus dimidiaticornis

This insect was at the back door. I have not seen it before. – Robert Maxwell, Kinsale, Co Cork
It’s the rove beetle, Staphylinus dimidiaticornis, the same family as the devil’s coach horse.

Swarm of honey bees from a beehive
Swarm of honey bees from a beehive

On a beautiful, sunny afternoon walk at Farmleigh in mid-June I spotted this buzzing, living structure. Is it a hornet’s nest? – Patricia Ryan, Drimnagh, Dublin 12
It was a swarm of honey bees from a beehive. In June the bee colony in a hive dispatches the old queen, with about half the worker bees and a quantity of honey, to form a new colony.

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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