CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

WATCH: Butterflies emerge for first time at Kentish Town City Farm

"If you have a garden with stinging nettles you are blessed – it is a food source for the caterpillar"

15 August, 2019 — By Tom Foot

KENTISH Town City Farm is celebrating a bonanza of butterflies after 178 “small tortoiseshells” fluttered free from chrysalides for the first time.

An army of tiny black and yellow caterpillars had been found spinning silk tents around stinging nettles where they like to feed.

The nettles were protected from predators like birds and parasitic wasps by farm staff and, over the weekend, they began their transformation process.

The magical moment one butterfly emerged for the first time was caught on film and can be seen on the New Journal website.

Chris Heath, the education expert at the farm in Cressfield Close, reminded gardeners: “No stinging nettle, no butterfly”, adding: “The most colourful species of butterflies we have are the Comma, the Peacock, Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshells.

“These lay their eggs on stinging nettles, which is the food plant of their caterpillar. But stinging nettles are not so popular with people because they sting, so they get rid of them.

“If you have a garden with stinging nettles you are blessed – it is a food source for the caterpillar.”

Watch the butterflies emerge. Credit: Mel Chamberlain

Mr Heath has taught thousands of children about gardening and nature at the farm for 17 years and used to run a carnivorous plant stall in Camden Market in the 1990s.

He said he had recently discovered that a plant had been named after him online, adding: “I used to grow carnivorous plants, plants that catch insects. I grew over 200 different species.

“I had a plant that was exceptional that I had produced from pollinating two flowers you grow the seedings. I developed it in Bartholomew Road and I sold cuttings of it.

“I looked the other day and it is being sold as ‘the Chris Heath sarracenia flava’.”

Mr Heath, who is full of interesting facts about the natural world, said: “It is a very interesting world out there.

“Did you know when a bee gets married its todger snaps off?”

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