What’s this spider called? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney on the Kerry slug, the buff-tip moth, potato urchins and Dryad’s saddle

The toad spider (also called the walnut orb weaver), Nuctenea umbratica

The toad spider (also called the walnut orb weaver), Nuctenea umbratica

 

We came across this spider while holidaying in Glenbeigh, Co Kerry. We thought it was a beetle but it had eight legs. – Theresa Moran, Walkinstown, Dublin 12
It’s the toad spider (also called the walnut orb weaver), Nuctenea umbratica, widespread in Britain and Northern Ireland, with some reports of it here in the midlands, Dublin and Co Cork. It may be more plentiful, but not seen or reported.

The Kerry slug, found only in Kerry and some areas of west Cork, and also in Spain and Portugal.
The Kerry slug, found only in Kerry and some areas of west Cork, and also in Spain and Portugal.

This slug was well camouflaged against a lichen-covered rock near Mount Brandon on the Dingle Peninsula. – Paddy Slattery, Chapelizod, Dublin 20.
That’s the famous Kerry slug, which likes limestone rocks with lichen and mosses. It’s a species found only in Kerry and some areas of west Cork, and also in Spain and Portugal.

The bracket fungus Dryad’s saddle
The bracket fungus Dryad’s saddle

This fungus is growing on the top of a 3m-high tree stump in west Cork. The largest is approximately 400mm high. – Ann Scroope Borgman, Courtmacsherry, Co Cork
Mycologist Dr Kieran Connolly tells me that it’s the bracket fungus Dryad’s saddle.

The buff-tip moth
The buff-tip moth

This guy had us fooled. We each saw him on a bench in Barleycove, Co Cork and dismissed him as a twig. Camouflage success! – The Kelly family, Monaghan.
It’s the buff-tip moth, indeed well camouflaged.

Potato urchins, also called sea potatoes.
Potato urchins, also called sea potatoes.

I found these shells on the beach at Shraigh in west Mayo. My grandad Tom and granny Mary Rose think they are sea urchins, but my Mum disagrees as they are different to ones she found in Kilkee. – James Reilly (aged 10), Belmullet, Co Mayo
They are potato urchins, also called sea potatoes.

The cocoon of the six-spot burnet moth
The cocoon of the six-spot burnet moth

I came across a field littered with thousands of empty cocoons at Mizen Head. Do they belong to a moth or a butterfly? – Breda Murphy, Kilkenny
They are the cocoons of the six-spot burnet moth, which has been very plentiful this year. Photo of the moth in Eye on Nature on August 17th.

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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