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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!



  • 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

    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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