Eye on Nature: What is this insect in the Down colours?

Your notes and queries for Eanna Ní Lamhna

I saw these insects clustered on yellow flowers along with tiger-striped caterpillars on Lisfannon beach, Co Donegal. Philomena Grant, Derry

There is enough in this image to fill a whole column. The flowers are common ragwort, dangerous to grazing livestock. The insect in the Down colours is the day-flying five-spot burnet moth, which has red hindwings. The caterpillars with the Kilkenny colours are those of the cinnabar moth, another red and black moth, that will appear this month.

A blackbird is feeding two young thrushes in our garden. It goes on all day. The thrushes are now bigger than the blackbird, which looks ragged and exhausted. Justin Kilcullen

These are young blackbirds. They are not black, like the adult male, but brown with spotting on the underparts. And, yes, rearing youngsters is exhausting, particularly when they continue to demand food even when they have left the nest.


This creature travelled home from the bog in a load of turf. It had a red ring around the base of its head and two black dots in the red ring that looked like eyes. Michael McArdle, Portlaoise

It is the caterpillar of the puss moth. Most illustrations show the caterpillar in full warning mode when whip-like filaments are protruded from its back pair of horns. Together with the grotesque appearance of its red face-like withdrawn head and its ability to eject an irritating fluid, it signals very clearly that it is not to be messed with.

Is this a common lizard? We found him on the wall of our house during the heatwave. We gently moved him to the hedge. Callum Watts (10)

Yes, it is our only native lizard. They love sunbathing on walls in the heat.

Stephen Delaney sent in this picture of an emperor dragonfly, taken in Baylough in the Vee in Tipperary.

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