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What are these creatures?

CollareddoveCollareddove SE WalesPosts: 85
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: 16,156
    edited 13 June
    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.
    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • AthelasAthelas CambridgeshirePosts: 645
    Small Tortoiseshell or Peacock butterfly caterpillars?
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,317
    Newly hatched caterpillars of the tortoiseshell butterfly ... wonderful   <3
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • CollareddoveCollareddove SE WalesPosts: 85
    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 Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,317
    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 .. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Slow-wormSlow-worm Posts: 553
    I think they're cuddly 😁
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,145
    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....

  • borgadrborgadr KentPosts: 403
    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 East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 5,890
    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)
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • CollareddoveCollareddove SE WalesPosts: 85
    That was a really interesting link @Dovefromabove, thank you for posting.
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