Stinging nettle question

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  • #33362


    I have Admiral eggs, a caterpillar castle and a stinging nettle plant – but in the past I’ve had experience that I’ve brought in a spider when I put the potted plant in the castle and I don’t want anything like that eating the eggs.

    I WANT TO RAISE ADMIRALS not feed spider(s).

    Anyone got any clever ideas of how to get around this?

Viewing 8 replies - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • #33380


    Wonderful ideas, thanks Pepetuna and Anna.



    Some spiders hide until dark, then come out for a “Midnight feast”….so I use a torch to double check I’ve got them all.



    I’ve had problems with spiders hiding in the bottom of the potting mix and coming out later and eating my caterpillars, so I have tried cutting nettle and keeping it fresh by pushing the sprigs into Oasis (florists’ foam). Works for me.

    I cut the nettles from a vigorous patch I grow in the garden, so first have to inspect each sprig very carefully to make sure there are no small praying mantises or spiders. I re-use washed squarish plastic cat-food tubs (think might be Jimbo brand) that are just the right size for the florists foam so I don’t have to cut the bricks much. Then I fill them with water and wait till it soaks in. When I put the nettle sprigs into the foam, there is no surplus water on the top that the caterpillars can fall into. I put a fresh tub into the castle each day so the caterpillars walk onto the fresh leaves and I can take the tub from two days before out.

    The nettle doesn’t seem to wilt, and I have much less problem with spiders. You do have to be careful to check that Admirals have not pupated on the rim of the tub, or on leaves of the old nettles when you are removing them ūüėČ



    Great tips, thanks Bernie and Norm and Elizabeth.

    Errol – no – a friend sent me the eggs.



    It’s also good to be aware of possible ant nests in the soil in the pot if it has been outside.¬† I learnt by sad experience about this when I put a pot of new nettles in the butterfly castle and wondered why the hanging pupae were being eaten, until I found lots of ants scurrying around and tracked them down to under the pot where they were going to and fro.¬† I had to empty the pot, clean the roots and repot with clean compost, and not keep the spare pots of nettles outdoors.¬† Which is quite a hassle, but necessary here anyway.



    Are the eggs already on the plant?



    I submerge the potential potted foodplant in a refuse bin full of water ,weighed down by a brick.After about 12 hours I take the pot out and let it drain.The plant comes to no harm.



    Potted plants for feeding larvae need attention before being brought into use if they have been sitting around outside, as they may be harbouring spiders and slugs.   The curled over rim at the top of the pot is an ideal place for spiders to hide, and also for females to create a silk nest for the tiny family, which may not be apparent until they have grown in size.  Run a suitable sized stick around and under the rim to get rid of these, and look under the bottom of the pot also, as pots with a recessed bottom often hide spiders, as do the drain holes in the bottom edge of some pots.  Finally give the plant a good hose down with a fine spray, aiming up under the leaves as well as downward. Such remedies only take a few minutes and should get rid of most spiders, and it is a good idea to place the pot in a spare castle until it is needed, which should stop further spiders from reaching the plant.    Regular inspection of the plants in use should reveal any spiders that slip through the net.

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