So I’ve failed completely on the daily blogging side of the #30DaysWild challenge but fortunately not been broken yet on the challenge itself. The last five days have been busy ones but fortunately not without their wild moments. Inspired by all the nettle action going on on BBC Springwatch, I decided to take Roo for a look at our very own nettle patch. According to Chris Packham nettles are teeming with wildlife making them an invaluable habitat to have at least a few of somewhere around the garden. They can support over 40 different insect species and support many moths and butterfly species. Their seed heads are also great for birds later in the year. I had heard this before and new vaguely about their benefits for caterpillars but that was about as far as my knowledge went. Fine, I thought. At least this way I can see for myself why I overlook the odd clump of nettles sprouting up behind the shrubs or down the side of the shed.
For Roo this was a fantastic adventure. At 3 1/2 being reminded not to touch the nettles is a fairly common nag of mine. She also knows first hand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of their histamine injecting hairs. Putting on her gardening gloves and being told to get stuck in is about as risky as it gets at that age. Unimpressed with her family closely examining a seemingly ordinary set of leaves, baby Beth set off on adventure of her own. Round the back of the shrubs we have a bunch of crates set out to mark the area where one day we hope to keep chickens. She set to balancing and clambering over these whilst we worked.
Back in the nettle patch Roo had made several discoveries. Clinging to one of the lower leaves was a startlingly green spider – perhaps a green orb? You can see I’ve had my bug book out again… She also found aphids, quickly identified without help following our bug hunt of a few days back. We also spotted tiny little hopping flies, cuckoo spit -(Roo thought the froghopper who was taking up residence inside was a hysterical name), some very odd scorch type damage to a few nettle leaves and ants. This was all on one nettle. The good folk of Springwatch had not been lying to us!
Our most exciting find though was a small, lacy shroud of webbing tucked into the corner of a rolled nettle leaf. Had we been unwarned by Springwatch we would have quickly passed by the original webby hollow as the home of the spider we had spotted earlier. As it was, we decided to investigate further. There, hidden away in the crook of the leaf we found a tiny tissuey cocoon – home, I suspect from my new Springwatch knowledge, to a spindle ermine moth. What a pair of nature buffs Roo and I are turning into! Roo wanted to head out into the lane to examine the massive nettle patch out there too but baths and bed were calling. Besides, Beth by this point had got herself stuck in her own adventures through the shrubbery…who says older sisters have all the fun?