|Stinging nettles give us an insight into both the capacity for nature to flourish even in some of the hardest urban conditions, and how plants are essential in providing us with some of the neccessities of life.|
Not only do they provide excellent food for some butterflies and moths, but we can make tea from their leaves, use them as dyes, and once stung we will never forget their power to protect - as good a piece of environmental education as any.
Urban Advisor, English Nature
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?|
|Roman soldiers posted in Britain were reputed to have brushed their limbs with nettles so the stings would warm them in the cold climate!|