ECOLOGY OF STINGING NETTLES
|Urtica dioica the stinging nettles with its stems and leaves densely covered with stinging hairs, which release potential pain-inducing toxins when brushing contact is made with them, is rarely eaten by rabbits. However nettle seeds have been found in cow dung so are eaten by cattle. Nettles have a higher nutritional value than the fodder crops amongst which they thrive. Nettles contain 5 times the copper and 1.5 times the iron content of fodder grasses and when dried may be consumed by cattle without ill effects. They are palatable to some species of snail (Salisbury 1961). The stings offer little defence against caterpillars. Up to 31 species of Lepidoptera butterflies and moths feed on stinging nettles, of which the adults of 4 species and 31 larvae feed (Davis 1991).
Urtica dioica is the food plant of the larvae of a number of attractive butterflies…
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