This week our blog has been written by our Seasonal Aviculture Warden, Amy Plows:
“Spring has sprung and everywhere you look, including at Pensthorpe, there are nettles popping up in fresh, leafy patches. Whilst many people consider the stinging nettle a weed or an unwanted cause of pain, it is in fact a very important native plant for our wildlife.
The common nettle, Urtica dioica, supports over 40 insect species in the UK and provides a safe habitat for them due to its unappealing sting for grazing animals. If you are to look at the underside of a nettle, whilst trying not to get stung, at this time of year you are sure to find an abundance of aphids making the most of the new leaves.
Aphids may seem a fairly unexciting bug but that is far from the truth. There are about 4,000 known species of aphid worldwide and over 500 of these are found in the UK.
The oldest known fossil of an aphid is estimated to be 280 million years old. That means that aphids evolved at least 40 million years before the arrival of the dinosaurs. It also means they have managed to survive three mass extinctions!
The species pictured above is the common nettle aphid, Microlophium carnosum. They are a great prey item for larger insects such as parasitic wasps and ladybirds and can also be prey for small insect eating birds like blue tits.
During these strange times of lockdown, many of us are taking to our gardens to get them looking how they should and getting rid of those pesky ‘weeds’. If you’re missing your nature fix by visiting places like Pensthorpe and you want to help UK biodiversity then think twice before pulling out those plants which we deem less attractive. Leave a little slice of welcome habitat for the insects and other creatures in your garden. Leaving a few nettles behind is a great way to start!”
The news is out and after months and months in planning we are delighted to announce we have submitted planning permission for The Island Walk. The proposed island walk would consist of a series of high bridges, decks, walkways and boardwalks raised 3 metres high into the tree canopies, with vistas stretching across our lakes.… Read more »
Volunteers Week is a national celebration of the hard work and dedication of volunteers across the UK. This year, Volunteers Week takes place from 1-7 June. Volunteers make a vital contribution to our communities. They work in a wide range of settings, from schools and hospitals to charities and community groups. They give their time,… Read more »
World Curlew Day is a global awareness day that celebrates the curlew, a large wading bird that is found in many parts of the world. The day is held on April 21st, which is the feast day of Saint Beuno, the patron saint of curlews. Curlews are beautiful and iconic birds. They are known for… Read more »