Aglais urticae, also known as the small tortoiseshell or nettle butterfly, is a medium-sized butterfly that is native to Europe and Asia. 

Some of the characteristics of this species include:

  • Wingspan: The wingspan of an Aglais urticae butterfly ranges from 40 to 50 mm.
  • Coloration: The upper wings of an Aglais urticae butterfly are orange with black and white markings, while the lower wings are brown with orange, black, and white markings.
  • Preferred habitat: Aglais urticae butterflies are found in a variety of habitats, including gardens, fields, and open woodlands. They are particularly common in areas with plenty of sunshine.
  • Temperature: Aglais urticae butterflies are adapted to a wide range of temperatures and can be found in both hot and cold climates.
  • Humidity: This species prefers dry, arid conditions and is typically not found in areas with high humidity.
  • Host plants: Aglais urticae butterflies lay their eggs on a variety of plants, including nettles, thistles, and hops.
  • Nectar plants: Aglais urticae butterflies feed on the nectar of a variety of flowers, including asters, cosmos, zinnias, and marigolds.

The life cycle of an Aglais urticae butterfly consists of four stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), and adult. 

At a constant temperature of 24°C, the duration of each stage is as follows:

  • Egg: The egg stage lasts for about 5 to 10 days.
  • Caterpillar: The larval stage lasts for about 2 to 3 weeks. During this time, the caterpillar will molt (shed its exoskeleton) several times as it grows.
  • Pupa: The pupal stage lasts for about 10 to 14 days. During this time, the pupa is hard and immobile, and the butterfly undergoes metamorphosis inside it.
  • Adult: The adult stage lasts for about 2 to 3 weeks.

Aglais urticae butterflies overwinter as adult butterflies or pupae, depending on the location. In colder climates, the butterflies will migrate to more temperate regions, while in warmer climates, they may remain active throughout the year.

Aglais urticae butterflies lay their eggs singly on the undersides of leaves of host plants. The eggs are small (about the size of a pinhead) and are typically green in color.

To breed Aglais urticae butterflies at home, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Obtain eggs or caterpillars: You can obtain eggs or caterpillars from a butterfly farm or by collecting them from host plants in the wild.
  1. Provide host plants: Once you have obtained eggs or caterpillars, you will need to provide them with host plants on which to feed and grow. These can be potted plants or plants that are grown directly in the enclosure.
  1. Provide nectar plants: Adult Aglais urticae butterflies feed on the nectar of a variety of flowers, so you will need to provide a variety of nectar plants for them to feed on. These can be potted plants or plants that are grown directly in the enclosure.
  1. Provide shelter: You will need to provide some form of shelter for the butterflies, such as a butterfly house or a netting enclosure. This will help to protect them from predators and extreme weather conditions.
  1. Maintain temperature: It is important to maintain a consistent temperature of around 24°C in order to ensure that the butterflies are able to complete their life cycle. This can be achieved by using a heating pad or heat lamp, or by placing the enclosure in a warm location.
  1. Monitor the butterflies: You will need to monitor the butterflies regularly to ensure that they are healthy and have everything they need. This may include providing them with fresh host and nectar plants as needed, cleaning the enclosure regularly, and providing a shallow dish of water for them to drink from.
  1. Release the butterflies: Once the butterflies have completed their life cycle and have reached adulthood, you can release them into the wild if you wish. Make sure to release them in a location that has suitable host and nectar plants for them to feed on.

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