Wednesday, July 20, 2011

To Live Among Nettles

There's no two ways about it, stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) hurt. Their leaves and stems (which is pretty mush all of them) are lined with time hairs that act as hypodermic needles, injecting a cocktail of chemicals into whatever brushes off them. This induces the stinging sensation associated with them. This would seem to make them unsocial organisms in our eyes, repelling all comers. Yet this is not the case, with many animals readily living with, and even on, U. doica. Take the mirid bug pictured, Grypocoris stysi.
Grypocoris stysi
It can regularly be observed amking its way through the leaves of nettle plants feeding on aphids and the flower heads, impervious to the hairs which, due to the bug's size (c. 6 mm), are easily avoided.

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