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What are these creatures?

Discovered this horrid mass of black cretures on a nettle plant.  The first photo shows better that they appear to be on top of a thick web (spider or insect?). I shall leave them alone to do their own thing, but they don't look very cuddly!





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  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,440
    edited June 2022
    I could do with a close up, but they appear to be caterpillars. Nettles are a good food source for caterpillars.  Could be peacock butterfly caterpillars.
  • AthelasAthelas Posts: 911
    Small Tortoiseshell or Peacock butterfly caterpillars?
    Cambridgeshire, UK
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,969
    Newly hatched caterpillars of the tortoiseshell butterfly ... wonderful   <3

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.





  • CollareddoveCollareddove Posts: 165
    Oh, that's wonderful, I guess they get more marked and attractive with age!  So, when were the eggs laid?  I haven't seen any tortoishell butterflies yet this year?
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,969
    It's the story of the Ugly Duckling 🤣

    It's all here http://www.wildlifeinsight.com/british-butterflies/small-tortoiseshell-butterfly-aglais-urticae/

    The tortoiseshell butterfly overwinters as an adult ... I've seen them about since very early spring .. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.





  • Slow-wormSlow-worm Posts: 1,576
    I think they're cuddly 😁
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    I get them [the caterpillars] on the blackthorn, but rarely on the nettles.  :)

    The overwintered adults always look really rough. They've had a very rough time here this year with the recent weather. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....



    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • borgadrborgadr Posts: 704
    Watch out for the chrysalises if you decide to pull up the nettles later in the year.  You'll often see them hanging off the leaves.  Always seems like a shame to harm them.
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 7,010
    well done for asking and not just killing them because they look a bit scary  :)

    A case in point for the thread about native plants  B)
    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • CollareddoveCollareddove Posts: 165
    That was a really interesting link @Dovefromabove, thank you for posting.
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