The Nettle Patch
One of the consequences of allowing the field to develop without interference has been the establishment of the Nettle Patch. This is just to the right of the entrance to the Tufa Field, encompassing an area of about 50 square metres.
This patch should be renamed the Butterfly Patch for this is it’s real value. Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica), always a problem to people, are a vital plant to some butterflies and moths. For some, nettles are their only source of food and breeding grounds. This includes some of our most striking and increasingly threatened species.
Red Admiral, Peacock and Comma butterfly caterpillars feed exclusively on nettles, as do the larvae of Small Magpie, Burnished Brass, Mother-of-Pearl and the curious looking Spectacle moths, active at night.
These flying insects along with many others sustained by the nettles and umbelliferous plants such as cow parsley, are themselves part of a food chain that includes our pipistrelle and horseshoe bats. The population of these has been steadily dwindling. More disturbance will likely see them disappearing completely .