|Urtica dioica The Stinging Nettle|
Well known as a host to insects of many orders including Coleoptera, stinging nettles occur throughtout the British
Isles and usually commonly so. They are abundant throughout our area and are very quick to colonize newly disturbed
ground, often to the exclusion of other species. They are perennial and can be extremely persistent, growing from
underground stems or from seed. Locally they do not seem to be restricted by soil type and seem equally at home
growing from brickwork in garden walls or in waterlogged soil along riverbeds. Mature growth usually dies back after
flowering in late autumn but at least some foliage will persist through the winter, during October/November 2008 lush
and dense fresh growth was appearing around established nettlebeds throughout our area and tall summer stems still
retain huge numbers of catkin-like flowers.
Growth begins in early spring and is rapid, stems sometimes reaching two metres by late May, and flowering in June.
This species is very distinctive and cannot be mistaken for any other; the small nettle (U.urens)
grows to around 30cm when mature and has smaller, darker and ovate leaves, on lower stems these are shorter than
their stems, in dioica they are larger. Both species sting.
The following beetles are known to be associated with nettles but sweeping these plants may well produce many other, 'adventitious', species.