What’s this insect I spotted in the front garden? Readers’ nature queries
Ethna Viney on white plume moth, slime mould, starfish and sand crabs
I saw this insect in the front garden in mid-April. – Fergus Dowd, Tipperary
It’s a caddis fly, which breeds in ponds or streams. The eggs are camouflaged in cases made from gravel and plant fragments.
I found caddis fly larvae in a small stream that feeds into Lough Furnace. It was identified by my father, Barry Kenny, a long-time fly fisherman. One of the cases was quite ornate with small, colourful grains of rock and foliage debris. – Shane Kenny, Newport, Co Mayo
We found this little guy on our front door last month. – Rory McGuinn, Moycullen, Co Galway
It’s a micro moth, the white plume moth, which flies at night and is around a bit early this year because of the mild spring.
Please identify these pouches on a tree in a field next to our garden. When I first saw them they were smooth, but they have since cracked showing darker inside. – Nuala Noblett, Garrison, Co Fermanagh
This structure has appeared suddenly on a wooden step in the garden. – Robert Myerscough, Dunlavin, Co Wicklow
In both cases, the objects are the slime mould, Enteridium lycoperdon. A slime mould is an organism that shares animal and plant or fungal characteristics. It goes through several stages of development and form, from when it is feeding and can move around. This is the reproductive stage, when it is static and produces spores.
I found this beautiful starfish on Mannin Beach, Ballyconneely. – Ann Keogh, Oughterard, Co Galway
I found several of these sand/masked crabs at low spring tide on Glassilaun Beach, Renvyle, Co Galway. Their antennae are fused together to make a breathing funnel for submersion under the sand. Fabulous creatures. – Colm Walsh, Renvyle, Co Galway
Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at email@example.com. Please include a postal address.