Small nettle patch for butterflies

Victoria SpongeVictoria Sponge WearsidePosts: 2,705

Hi Guys,

I've got a small nettle patch that earlier in the year had small tortoiseshell caterpillars.

I've cleared some other stuff out the way today and exposed the patch and it is looking distinctly threadbare although some new shoots are coming through on the old stems.

I seem to remember reading somewhere to cut them back at some point whereupon they will grow back for a later batch of caterpillars. Is this correct/ necessary?

I started the patch in 2012 and would like it to thicken. I had been collecting the seedlings and returning them to the patch to speed up the processimage

Thank you image


  • Red Admirals and Tortoiseshells are best suited by the nettles being cut back in about late June so that they provide food for the caterpillars that mostly emerge from August. They like the nettles to be in a sunny spot. I suppose the ideal would be to have enough nettles to provide a range of ages to suit the egg-laying period.

  • Victoria SpongeVictoria Sponge WearsidePosts: 2,705

    Right. Cheers Joeimage

    I've missed the boat on this one then. I'll collect the seedlings again and cut some or all of it next year then.

    I don't think my patch is large enough to have a range of ages I'm afraid - it's got a square metre allocated but not filling it at present. It is in full sun.

    Edit: do I cut them to the ground?

  • Yes.

  • Victoria SpongeVictoria Sponge WearsidePosts: 2,705

    Thanks Joe.image

    Not sure if there's a new nest on them as there are webs on the new growth. Don't think I have enough nettles for a second wave of 'pillarsimage

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