Butterflies, Stinging Nettles and Asters

Posted on October 13th, 2011

by Gail Fennell
I watched 4 of these beautiful butterflies in my backyard on Monday. A friend was curious to know which butterfly was in the pics I took, and I was too, so I looked up the name - Nymphalis milberti - Milbert's tortoiseshell, and there seem to be several subspecies on this website, which has quite a bit of information about this particular butterfly:
http://talkaboutwildlife.ca/profile/index.php?s=856

There was a stinging nettle in my yard that grew to 6'. My friend Margaret’s comment when I mentioned wanting to pull it was "What about the caterpillars that only eat stinging nettle?" so the the stinging nettle stayed. Guess what these butterflies were eating when they were much younger? I didn't see any caterpillars but there must have been at least four! The caterpillar can be described as mostly black with white speckles and orange dots in a line down the back. Apparently there can be two generations in one season.
Thank you Margaret, for persuading me to live with a giant stinging nettle by a pathway - seeing those butterflies was well worth the stings.
 
The butterflies loved the native asters that were a rescue from where the 62 Ave. extension is going in. One of them even came to sit beside me on the paving stone for a while.
 
Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by how far we are from getting people outside of the nature groups to understand that we all have to take responsibility and just start where we can, but those 15 minutes with the butterflies made everything I've done this summer worthwhile.


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