Benefits of “Weeds”

All wild flowers are very beneficial to the Environment. They help provide a habitat for many insects, wild animals and birds. Their foliage, nectar and seeds are also very valuable as a food source.

Even wild flowers that many of us consider as “weeds” are very important to certain animals and insects.

Even the common stinging nettle has a role to play. They form the larval food plant for the beautiful Peacock butterfly. The dark grey caterpillars are around 4cm long, and are often seen communally feeding on nettle leaves. The adult butterfly is one of the most common butterflies in our gardens and is very easy to recognise with its striking eyespots and gaudy colours.

Peacock butterfly caterpillars feeding on stinging nettle

Just like the nettle, thistles are also important. Their nectar is fed on by many bees and butterflies, and the seedheads are a good food source for seed eating birds, such as Goldfinches.

goldfinch feeding on thistle heads

We deliberately leave areas of nettles and thistles round our yards – although this may look unsightly to some, just like all wild flowers they all have a role in the Environment.