What’s this creature I found on Carnivan Bay? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney on by-the-wind sailor, butterflies, starfish, jellyfish and forest bugs

A by-the-wind-sailor, Velella velella

I spotted this creature on Carnivan Bay, Fethard-on-Sea. What is it? – Brenda Cullen, Greystones, Co Wicklow. 
It's a by-the-wind-sailor, Velella velella. See Another Life.

Peacock butterfly

I spotted this beautiful butterfly at the Liffey banks in Chapelizod. What is it and is it a common butterfly? – Marion Rogan, Chapelizod, Dublin 20
The peacock is a common native butterfly, as well as being beautiful.

The black brittle starfish is common around our shores

My daughter Carys (12) found this starfish on Inch Strand. Is it a common species? – Richard Walsh, Lucan, Co Dublin
It's the black brittle star, which is common around our shores.

Lion’s mane jellyfish

I saw this jellyfish on Sandymount Strand early in August. It was about 2ft in diameter. – Ann Ryan, Sandymount, Dublin 4
The lion's mane jellyfish is dangerous. Don't touch them as they give a bad sting. They have been turning up around the coast in recent months.

Caterpillar of the grey dagger moth

Can you please identify this caterpillar? I'm not sure if it is a butterfly or a moth. – Anne Greene, Celbridge, Co Kildare
It's the caterpillar of the grey dagger moth.

Potato urchin shell

I found this shell on Ross Beach, Killala. What is it? – Ciarán Casey, Foxford, Co Mayo
The potato urchin is also called the sea potato. It has a very fragile shell.

Forest bug

This creature's interesting colour caught my eye, particularly the orange markings on its side, as it wandered across the patio. – Hannah Dyas, Lucan, Co Kildare
It's the forest bug. They are around at this time of year.

White O’Kelly’s spotted orchid

I found these guys down on my bog in Co Roscommon. – George McDermott, Creggs, Co Roscommon
They are the white O'Kelly's spotted orchid, a variety of the common spotted orchid, which flowers later than the main species.

Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at viney@anu.ie. Plelase include a postal address.