Why bumblebees can lose all their hair: Readers’ nature queries

Eye on Nature: Ethna Viney replies to your queries and observations

I'm sending you a photograph I took last August of a black bee. Steven Falk, author of The Bees of Great Britain and Ireland, identified it as a bumblebee that has lost all its hair.
Tony Mcgaley
Knocklyon, Dublin

Apparently, late in the season, bumblebees can lose their hair as it gets brushed off by rubbing on flowers.

I saw the bird in my photograph on a plant; it seemed to be feeding on the flowers. It was about the size and colour of a starling, apart from the striking yellow on its forehead and chest.
Anne Harris
Bishopstown Avenue, Cork

It was a starling, feeding on the nectar of New Zealand flax flowers and collecting pollen on its head. John Carroll from Courtown, Co Wexford, and Jeremy Hutchinstown from Louisburgh, Co Mayo, reported the same starling activity.


I watched the moth in my photograph emerge from its chrysalis above our front door and fly away. What species of butterfly or moth is it?
Louise Stoodley
Ballisodare, Co Sligo

It was a magpie moth. They usually pupate on the underside of the leaves of their food plants, which are currant, gooseberry or hawthorn bushes.

Wasps have made a nest in the wall of our house at the back door and are busy rushing in and out through a small hole. Most of the exiting wasps are carrying out insulation beads, to make room for the expansion of the nest.
Gearóid Cahill
Edmondstown, Co Louth

Liz Owen Carney, from Stillorgan, Co Dublin, sent a photograph of a beautiful swallow-tailed moth, not often seen as it flies at night.

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