Are the gray squirrel rumors true? Questions about the nature of readers

Gray squirrels are great to watch, but is the rumor that they don’t hibernate true? But because? – Edward Barr, Dublin
You shouldn’t listen to rumours. Squirrels, both red and gray, collect and store nuts in early fall to eat through the winter, as they do not hibernate and will need these food reserves. Hedgehogs and bats, both carnivores, hibernate as there is no food available for them during the winter. They can slow down their metabolic rate to survive on the fat stored in their bodies. Squirrels can’t do this.

Ruby tiger moth caterpillar

I saw this caterpillar in Moreland’s Meadow where it was well hidden in the grass… I thought it was a burr until it moved! What it is? –Paul Aiken, Belfast
It is most likely the ruby ​​tiger moth caterpillar, which feeds on a variety of plants (including some grasses) and appears at this time of year. It could possibly be a beige ermine, but ruby ​​tiger caterpillars have black heads.

ten spot ladybug

ten spot ladybug

This little ladybug landed on a plastic plate outside recently. Google Lens indicates that it is an ash gray ladybug. Can you identify it please? Is it a baby ladybug without pigment? It was about 5mm wide. – Niall O’Carroll, County Kerry
Ash gray ladybugs are indigenous to North America and are not found in Ireland. This little one is a 10-spot ladybug that overwintered as an adult and is now out to feast on aphids in your garden. We have 19 native species of ladybugs.

ants on willow

ants on willow

I saw these tiny ants running from one side of the willow tree to the other: a lot of effort for what? I wrote to Michael Viney about this phenomenon on May 2, 2021. He said they are looking for sap, but I don’t see sap on offer. – Paul Dunne, County Galway
Ah, but you are not an ant! The ants feed on the sweet sap and honeydew excreted by the aphids to give them the energy they need. Willows contain sweet sap, and ants collect the small amounts that seep through the bark. This is what Michael was referring to.

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