Currently viewing the category: "Plants"

Subject:  Please identify this bug
Geographic location of the bug:  London UK
Date: 11/24/2017
Time: 06:51 AM EDT
Hi there
Please could you help me identify this bug.  It bit/stung me.
How you want your letter signed:  Shivi

Stinging Nettles

Dear Shivi,
Where is the bug?  All we see are leaves, and they appear to be Stinging Nettles which are pictured on The Tortoise Table.  According to the Royal Horticultural Society:  “stinging nettles (
Urtica) have stinging hairs that make them quickly apparent to the gardener when weeding.”  According to The Poison Garden:  “Brushing the plant produces a stinging on the skin of varying intensity.”

Stinging Nettles

Subject:  BeetleCaterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Joplin Missouri
Date: 11/17/2017
Time: 07:36 PM EDT
Found in a friends kitchen. She was poked by it and now has a swollen finger. Which I believe is common for pokes.
How you want your letter signed:  Heather


Dear Heather,
This is not an insect.  It is the seed pod of a plant and it is commonly called a Cocklebur.  Cockleburs get embedded in pet hair and clothing, and that is how the plant disperses its seed far from the mature plant.  You can view this image that we located on the University of Minnesota Extension site.  For some inexplicable reason, you may purchase 100 cockleburs on Etsy for a mere $5.00.

But it is alive, it moves, and has huge pinchers like a beetle.

No comment.

Subject:  Do you know what these guys are
Geographic location of the bug:  Ontario canada
Date: 10/04/2017
Time: 10:12 AM EDT
Hoping you can tell me what these guys are
How you want your letter signed:  Val

Plant Seeds we believe

Dear Val,
These are not insects.  We believe they are plant seeds.

Subject: What’s this
Location: Trenton, florida v
August 23, 2017 6:47 pm
This was in my kitchen on the floor. I went to pick it up and it stung/bit me. It was very painful. I have no clue. Can u identify it? Me and about 60 people on fb are trying to figure it out
Thank you.
Signature: Eileen


Dear Eileen,
This is a leaf.  Many leaves including Stinging Nettles have stinging spines.

Roflmao….well I feel silly as hell.   I could have sworn it smiled when it bit me, haha.   Now my dilemma is do I share this knowledge with everyone who gave me advice last night?     Thank you very much for your reply.   I love wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy out in the boonies of
Florida and am very far from a hospital so for the first 15 mins after I was stung I was quite nervous.  I hope you are not laughing to much at me.
Thanks again, Eileen
Not at all Eileen.  Many people associate stinging with insects, not plants, but in fact, many plants are capable of stinging.  Thomas A. Witt did post this to our Facebook page:  “Looks like Tread Softly, Cnidoscolus aconitifolius. Yes it stings. Yes I know first hand.”

Subject: Please help…
Location: Pillow case and bed in RI
January 6, 2017 10:05 am
Hi, I just went into our guest room..(seldom used) and found these little black beadlike things all over the bed and discovered that they came from deep inside the pillow case!! There is hundreds of them…really hard but you can smash them…kind of white inside, or cream colored? The bed was slept in last night so it was unmade…I discovered these things all in the sheets but definitely the source was the pillow case…OMG! We live in Rhode Island in an old colonial style home, but I had the Pest guy over recently because we thought we heard a squirrel or something int he house but he found no evidence….what is this? Can you please help?
Thank you in advance…
Margaret Scully
Signature: Little black things

Rodent Stash: Pokeweed Seeds

Dear Margaret,
We have several postings in our archive that are similar, and while we have always suspected that this is the result of a rodent, like a mouse, stashing away seeds indoors, we eventually identified the actual seeds as Pokeweed Seeds.  Our suspicion is that a rodent was squirrelling away seeds in anticipation of a harsh winter.

Rodent Stash: Pokeweed Seeds

I have contacted the pest control guy and he is coming Monday…. Thank you so much for the identification, I am indeed consoled… and happy that it wasn’t aliens.
Have a wonderful New Year,

Subject: HELP!!!
Location: Canton, OH
February 24, 2016 11:59 am
I have now found 2 piles of these mysterious seeds in various piles of clothing. I cannot for the life of me figure out exactly what it is and how they appeared. They’re mostly flat, semi-shiny, light to medium brown, and slightly pointed at one end. I’ve google searched to my whits end but absolutely nothing looks like these….flax seed-looking…droppings? I have NO idea but a few days after I found this pile, the entire pile was gone. GONE. As in disappeared. I’m not kidding!! Help!
Signature: Scared and Alone In Home

Rodent's Seed Stash

Rodent’s Seed Stash

Dear Scared and Alone in Home,
Though we cannot tell you what kind of seeds you found, we are very confident that they were put there by a rodent.  Mice will frequently gather seeds and provision them indoors where conditions are comfortable, but where food is scarce.  We have several postings of Poke Seeds found indoors, but your seeds are different.