Thistles, friend or foe?

Murtagh's Meadow

Often, we are all too quick to get rid of so called weeds; thistles, nettles, ragworth and so on. They are quickly pulled up or worse still, eliminated with weedkillers. But all these “weeds” are valuable for many forms of wildlife. At the moment thistles in our garden are proving very popular with bees and butterflies alike.

Peacock on thistle flower Peacock on thistle flower

Bumblebee on thistle flower Bumblebee on thistle flower

Carder bee on thistle Carder bee on thistle

Later, thistle seed will be eaten by birds such as goldfinches. You may have noticed my photograph of tortoiseshell caterpillars eating nettles on a post a couple of weeks ago. And most of our ragworth plants have a couple of cinnabar caterpillars chomping away at the leaves (and flowers!).

Cinnabar caterpillars on ragworth Cinnabar caterpillars on ragworth

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About Murtagh's Meadow

As an ecologist I have always had an interest in nature. I love gardening and would spend all day outdoors if I could. I also enjoy taking photographs and writing. I live in the west of Ireland with my young family.
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