Eye on Nature: Eggshells, butter tastes, insects, bark marks, moths and butterflies

Ethna Viney answers your nature-related questions

I found this portion of a blackbird’s egg on my avenue on March 22nd. Could they have hatched this early?

Martin Byrnes, Oranmore, Co Galway

It could have been hatched if the bird started laying very early in March.

Why does Irish butter taste better than all the others? My unsubstantiated opinion is that the taste is driven by the kind of limestone in the soil.


Ned Monaghan, New Canaan, Connecticut

Diet affects the flavour of milk, and grass-fed cows produce the best flavours, although some wild plants produce off-flavours.

I found this insect when arranging a vase of flowers. I thought it was a bit of leaf but then it began to move.

Iseult Kelly, Inishowen, Co Donegal

It’s the southern green shield bug, a newcomer to these islands in the last couple of decades, and not to be confused with the native green shield bug. This one is an adult female.

What would have caused these burrowings under the barks of ash logs I believe were imported from Britain?

Michael Shemeld, Cork city

They are made by the pupae of bark beetles.

We found this moth in our house recently. Could you identify and are they common? The wingspan was about 2 inches.

Helen and John Ryan, Sandyford, Dublin

It’s the angle shades moth. The brick colour can also be green. It can be seen at all times of the year.

I spotted this guy on my bluebells. Is it a moth or a butterfly?

Helen Rafferty, Bray, Co Wicklow

This is the holly blue butterfly in its spring colouring. It’s pale blue with a black stripe when the wings are open.

Note: It is illegal to photograph or film, without a licence, a bird’s nest containing eggs or young birds.

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