Peacock butterfly caterpillar

Peacock butterfly caterpillar
Peacock butterfly caterpillar – this one has wandered away from the defoliated nettle it was living on. Its orange feet (prolegs) mean it is quite “grown up”, for a peacock caterpillar.

The shiny, spikey black caterpillars of peacock butterflies feed on nettles.

We’ve fallen out of love with nettles – probably because they sting! – but they used to be more widely valued: as a vegetable, a medicinal herb and for making a (rather nice) textile. They’re a good plant for recycling nutrients and are rich in nitrogen, making them a valuable addition to the compost heap. And, of course, they’re good for wildlife.

Perennial nettles do spread easily, but they’re also easily pulled up, especially if you mulch around them. So, if you have the space, they’re a worthwhile addition to any wildlife garden area.

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2 thoughts on “Peacock butterfly caterpillar”

  1. I only found out this year what all these black caterpillars were! I’ve been having to wade through a lot of nettles during reptile surveys.

    Nettles are good for ‘cleansing the blood too’ – pity the tea tastes absolutely fowl.

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