30 Days Wild - Day Twenty - Nurture your nettles

By Laurie Harper

Singing the praises of these stinging weeds for wildlife...

Nettle Magic!

Ok, so they are a weed, have a really painful sting and grow like mad but our Common Nettle Urtica dioica, (or Stinging Nettles as better known) are amazing. They provide an important habitat and an essential source of food for lots of our wildlife and can even provide us with a nutritious meal, cup of Nettle tea and believe it or not a cool glass of Nettle Gin!

The common nettle is one of the most important native plants for wildlife in the UK and supports over 40 species of insect. Its seed and colonising aphids also provides an essential source of food for our birds and our ladybirds. A number of butterflies such as the red admiral, comma, peacock and small tortoiseshell also rely on nettles as a food source for their larvae and you can often see them munching away on the nettle stems.

I became fascinated with nettles and mini beast hunting whilst completing my Diploma in the Countryside and Environment. As part of my training for educational school visits I was taken on a walk around a nettle patch and several hours later was still with the same patch. I was mesmerised by the wildlife that inhabited the area. Since then I am always on the lookout in nettles to see what delights I can find and have my own little nettle patch at home to keep me occupied.

I can spend hours looking and taking photographs and now feel I can inspire children, family and friends on any outing to help them see the benefits of our nettles and the fabulous wildlife that rely on them.

Day 20 icon for 30 Days Wild

 

Ways to go wild...

Love your nettles! Explore a nettle patch (carefully...!) and see what you can find. And if some appear in your garden, don't rush to cut them down. Appreciate and nurture all the creatures that call them home.

Events during June for 30 Days Wild...

We've got loads going on all through June to help you go wild in our three counties. Visit our calendar for a full list of events.