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Nettles & Butterflies

Please - does anyone know when the butterflies finish laying eggs/hatching on nettles?  We have a load in our yard at work that could do with chopping down but I wanted to give the butterflies a chance to hatch because I think that the lay their eggs (or whatever it is they do to procreate!).  When should I chop them down?


  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    Many of the butterfly caterpillar larvae, will still be munching on nettles, so I would wait a while. Best time to cut them down is late summer when they have finished feeding.

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114

    Examine the nettles and you will probably see the caterpillars or eggs.

  • I was watching some small tortoiseshells laying eggs on my nettles last week so am expecting caterpillars to be on them for several weeks to come. I did a bit of research as well and discovered that in the South of England there are usually two broods in a year - one when the butterflies come out of hibernation in March/April and one in June/July - so I think this must be the second. They also prefer to lay eggs on young nettles (which fits in with what I saw as half my nettle patch was cut down about a month ago and they were laying their eggs on the new young growth). I usually cut my nettles a couple of times in the year but only cut part of the patch at a time and leave the cut nettles there so that any eggs/caterpillar will transfer to the growing nettles.

  • Sarah 26Sarah 26 Posts: 4

    Many thanks for the hints & tips.  Shall be out there this week checking for caterpillars!

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