I’m trying to identify a bug I keep finding in my house
February 6, 2010
Hi there,
I appreciate your help!!
For the past 1-2 years, I keep finding this one particular bug in my house, I am the only one who seems to notice it, but I keep finding it on my bed, on the floor and the latest -stuck to my pijama pants by its little” horns”. Please see pic.
I’ve found it during all seasons of the year and whenever I find it it is always dead. If it wasn’t for those little horns, I wouldn’t even think it was a bug. I’ve never seen it living.
When I first started finding this bug, I thought that it was perhaps something my ‘semi-indoor-outdoor’ cat dragged in. But being that it is the dead of February in Toronto, Canada …there really aren’t that bugs outside. So I don’t know.
I think that is all the information I can give you for now. Thank you so much for reading this and for your consideration to help me out. Take care.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Unknown Seeds

Hi Carla,
WE couldn’t help but to chuckle when we saw your letter.  These aren’t bugs at all, nor are they even animal in origin.  They are the seeds of a plant.  The “horns” are projections on the seed that lodge in animal fur or human clothing and this helps to transport the seed to a new location where if conditions are favorable, a new plant will germinate.  Though we recognize this seed, we are not certain from which plant it is produced.  We might be able to identify them properly should we take the time, but then we run the risk of adding a new category to our site, and frankly, we haven’t the time to expand into “What’s That Seed?

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for getting back to me!  I have to say, that I too had quite the laugh when I read your email  — Wow, I had a seed keeping my up at night.  As long as plants don’t start growing in the middle of my living room, then I think I will be fine with it.  Again, thank you for taking the time to answer my email. I’ve made a small donation to your website… just in case I am plagued by a seed again.
Carla Campli

6 Responses to Not Bugs, but Plant Seeds called Beggar’s Ticks

  1. kkroeker says:

    It looks like a Beggar’s Tick (or Beggartick) in the genus Bidens. It could be the Common Beggar’s Tick (B. frondosa), but it is hard to tell from the seed alone and there are several species in the genus represented in Ontario. They are in the Aster family (Asteraceae) and most have non-showy yellow flowers. Here on the prairies most hikes end with a picking session to get these little guys out of my socks. K

  2. Dave Harmon says:

    My dog regularly got similar seeds tangled in her fur, while walking (in Central Virginia).

    Bugs aren’t the only living things that like to hitch a ride on passers-by!

  3. Patti says:

    Here is probably the only funny story about Bidens on earth. In the early 90’s I took a Wetland Science class at UCD taught by Eliška Rejmánková. We often had field trips and they started early in the morning. On the trip to Grass Lake, (which is a fascinating sphagnum moss bog in the Sierra Nevadas!!!) I was picking Bidens out of my thermals and said to my field trip partner, “I have Bidens on my thermals.” “YOU HAVE MAGGOTS ON YOUR THERMALS???” he shouted, and everyone in our 8 person van was wide awake. “Bidens! I said Bidens!” I replied, and he settled down and went back to sleep. Then our TA chuckled and told us about someone who picked up a Bot Fly maggot while in Belize. On his head. Ewwwwww. Scientists are a lot braver than most people realize, you know.

    • bugman says:

      OK, our first impression was that this was just another incident of phishing or spam as is the case with over 50% of the comments we receive despite the spam filters we have. That was because we focused on the capital letters in your comment and then we noticed the word Bidens which we thought was a reference to our vice president and his family members. A closer read prompted us to research the scientific name for Beggar’s Ticks which is Bidens frondosa, something we discovered on the USDA website. Thanks for providing your amusing anecdote.

  4. Patti says:

    Lol! Yes, I noticed that commonality when I was making sure all the caps were there, too. Because it was a wetlands plants class, we referred to all plants by their scientific, botanical or Latin names, whichever you prefer. And to this day, I remember most marsh plants with a Czech accent, because that’s how I learned them, lol. Like not Scirpus cernuus (aka Low Bulrush or the very much cuter and more descriptive name Fiber Optic Grass) becomes Skeer-poos sair-NOO-us. Eliška is a great teacher- to make a marsh interesting, you must be! Of course, the fact that our TA (we’ll call her “Jane”) had ended up dunked in her chest waders the year before at the Cosumnes refuge and was therefore ultra- extra- mega- careful to NOT let it happen again, also enlivened the proceedings…

    Because of the Sphagnum moss, Grass Lake seems like you are walking across a meadow, but if you stand in one place , you will start to see a puddle forming around your feet, because you are actually standing on a huge, matted web. Kind of like the fiberfill mats used for quilting and upholstery, but bigger. It’s almost solid at the edge of the lake, thinning to open water in the middle. The thing to be careful of is going too near the center of the lake, because if you overcome the buoyancy of the moss, it will fold down like the trap door in the castle, and you drop into the water like they dropped into the watery dungeon. Not a problem individually, but we were all Pavlovian trained to scurry to see whatever the TA or Professor was talking about. Well, “Jane” said, “Oh, I found a…” and we were already in motion, like magnetized ball bearings when the magnet gets turned on. She got a horrified look on her face and in a loud, commanding voice said, “FREEZE! Everybody stop immediately!” We screeched to a halt, and looked from one to another trying to figure out what was going on, because of course, as newbies, we immediately forgot the problem of the thinning profile towards the center, where coincidentally, “Jane” was located, but she, of course, had not. I saw a Volvox that day, after hearing about them in biology since grade school. I’ll never forget it. Lol, yeah, I’m REALLY nerdy, hehehe.

    Scirpus cernuus picture: http://bassins-de-jardins.wifeo.com/images/s/sci/scirpus-cernuus.jpg
    Volvox picture with nice description: https://www.biomedia.cellbiology.ubc.ca/cellbiol/user/scripts/qry_media_id.php?media_id=2891

    BTW, I found some enoooormous grubs in the bunny poo, and thanks to you, I didn’t freak out, lol!

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