|Stingers are a vital part of growing up, giving us one of the most painful early memories of close contact with nature.|
It is much later in life that most of us realise just how valuable they are, especially for some of our most beautiful wild creatures.
Without stinging nettles, peacock, small tortoiseshell and red admiral butterflies would have nowhere to lay their eggs, so do please find a space for nettles somewhere in your neighbourhood.
Professor Chris Baines
Environmentalist and Broadcaster
Butterflies of the nettle patch
Many of our most colourful and well known butterflies depend on nettles for the growth of their larvae. They are all members of the Nymphalidae ( pronounced Nim-fa-lid-eye ) or Brush-footed butterflies. This is due the front pair of legs ( which are much smaller than the other two pairs and so not used for walking ) being covered in tufts of hair like scales.
Let's take a look at those you may see in a sunny nettle patch.
|Red Admiral - Vanessa atalanta|
A common sight in gardens in the autumn where it will feed on Buddleja flowers and fallen fruit. Migrates from Africa each spring.
|Small Tortoiseshell - Aglais urticae|
The adults are frequent visitors to garden flowers.
|Peacock - Inachis io|
Unmistakeable resident butterfly with large distinctive 'eye-spots' on the wings.
|Comma - Polygonia c-album|
The comma was struggling in the early 1900's but has made a remarkable comeback and is moving steadily northwards.
|Did you know?|
|Horse breeders have often added nettle seeds to horse feeds to give the animals a sleek coat.|