Eye on Nature: ‘Saw this spider on the dashboard of my van’

Your notes and queries for Eanna Ní Lamhna

This wriggling fellow was on our driveway. Sabrina Smyth

It is the caterpillar of the elephant hawkmoth, so called because of its trunk-like snout. It has two pairs of eye-spots on the first two segments; when alarmed the snout is withdrawn, then swells up and sways from side to side in the manner of a very small cross snake.

Can you please tell me what this bug is that was on my garden gate? Thank you. Hannah Crowe (7)

This is a green shield bug, also known as a stink bug, because it can produce a horrible smell. It feeds on hawthorn and bramble, and overwinters as an adult.


While out walking, we spotted some lichen growing on road signs. Why does lichen decorate some road signs and not others, and how do they attach themselves? I hope you can solve this mystery for me. Shevaun Doherty

Lichens produce spores that are wind-blown. If they get trapped in a crevice on a road sign they can germinate and grow. They have no roots and need no soil as they get their nutrients from the air and moisture from rainfall.

Saw this spider on the dashboard of my van. Any idea what it is? Karl Kennedy

This is a nursery-web spider – obviously an off-duty male as the female carries the eggs in a large egg sac under her body, which she holds in her fangs.

Here’s a photo of footprints halfway up our 5ft garden wall. Rat or hedgehog? Denis Cahalane

With no scale it is difficult to tell. Hedgehogs can climb up walls (they find it harder climbing down). Rats cannot climb sheer vertical walls, but this wall appears pebble-dashed. Hedgehog tracks are 30-45mm long while brown rat prints are 20-40mm long.

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