Your notes and queries for Ethna Viney

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - OUTDOORS - Ethna Viney wel­comes ob­ser­va­tions and pho­tographs at Thal­labawn, Louis­burgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at Please in­clude a postal ad­dress

My son found this plant grow­ing in a field ( right). It’s about 1 feet tall and the roots, like rag­wort, are very hard to pull up. Gil­lian Gra­ham, St John­ston, Co Done­gal

It’s datura, a poi­sonous, an­nual plant also called thorn ap­ple. All parts are poi­sonous, par­tic­u­larly the seeds. Can you iden­tify this in­sect and say why we have so many of them in the house ( right)? We have no ac­cess to grass, etc. Pauline Gar­a­van, West­port, Co Mayo

They are fir­e­brats, rel­a­tives of sil­ver­fish. They get into houses through cracks or in card­board boxes, old books or fur­ni­ture, and they feed on ce­re­als and pa­per. I spot­ted these mush­rooms on my father’s lawn ( right). They have a very in­ter­est­ing ex­te­rior – al­most as if they have been turned in­side-out. Are they un­usual? Ni­amh Fo­ran, Drumshambo, Co Leitrim It’s a shaggy ink cap, also called lawyer’s wig, and is quite com­mon. I found this lit­tle guy while pick­ing black­ber­ries ( right). I won­der if he is re­spon­si­ble for the holes in the net­tles? Ann Be­g­ley, Dun­dalk, Co Louth

It’s the nymph of the com­mon green shield bug which feeds on the leaves of a va­ri­ety of shrubs and trees. At the end of Septem­ber this bug was fly­ing around my house ( left). It must have come in through an open win­dow. Agatha Master­son, La­hey, Co Done­gal

It’s a sex­ton or bury­ing bee­tle. Work­ing in pairs, they bury small car­casses, such as those of mice or birds, by dig­ging a hole un­der them. The fe­male then lays her eggs near the buried corpse, and both adults and lar­vae feed on the car­rion.

Clock­wise from left: the com­mon green shield bug; a shaggy ink cap, also called lawyer’s wig; a sex­ton or bury­ing bee­tle

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