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Be Nice to Nettles

peacock butterfly caterpillar / Filma Dyer peacock butterfly caterpillar / Filma Dyer
Author Sue Curnock

Nature Tots Officer

National Be Nice to Nettles Week

is here and the Sussex Wildlife Trust is celebrating the butterflies of the nettle patch. A nettle nursery provides a safe haven as the stings deter all but the hardiest of grazing animals. Having first 'tasted' the leaves with her feet to check she is has found a suitable nettle, the peacock butterfly lays hundreds of eggs in full sun at the tip of the plant. Around ten days later the hungry caterpillars emerge to weave a protective silken leaf tent around themselves, then these ungrateful house guests munch their way through the rest of the unfortunate nettle and move en masse to the next.

Nature Tots finding out all about nettles / Sue Curnock Nature Tots finding out all about nettles / Sue Curnock

As part of our regular Nature Tots sessions, we have been looking at nettles and the butterflies they support.

Happiness is ... watching fifteen Nature Tots in muddy multicoloured wellies bounding along the meadow path in search of butterflies, grown ups trailing in their wake.

Panic is ... realising all my painstakingly cut out and scattered paper butterflies seem to have blown away in the wind.

Joy is ... finding them all further along the path, the children collecting colourful treasures to stick on wall charts, which I fondly imagine are now adorning kitchen cupboards across Sussex.

So before you reach for the strimmer to mow down these stinging stinkers, spare a thought for the butterfly eggs nestling against those prickly stems. Be nice to your nettles and look forward to a kaleidoscope of colour fluttering by this summer.

Mike Russell talks to Simon Parkin about the importance of nettles for wildlife

Comments

  • Jenny:

    15 May 2014 10:18:08

    Thank you Sue!
    Rohan certainly loved trying to find all the missing butterflies yesterday, what a beautiful day it was.

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