What’s tormenting the cat?

My long-haired cat is coming in with “devil’s pitchforks” stuck deep in her fur and she doesn’t like anyone removing them. I have to catch her at a sleepy moment, hold her down, distract her, or some other stratagem. At least these I can pull out. A few weeks ago, she was finding little round burrs that I mostly had to cut out of her fur.

"Devil's pitchforks"

I’ve seen the “pitchfork” seeds before but didn’t know the plant. It’s an evolutionary strategy for burrs and hooked seeds to catch in an animal’s fur and be carried away from the parent plant. Wherever the animal grooms them out, or where they catch on something else, is the seeds’ new home.

Finally I got curious and looked them up. Surprise! I knew the plant. It’s a weedy-looking thing like a small sunflower or a daisy without the big petals around the edge. Now that I know them, I’ll pull them up before they go to seed.

Bidens frondosa
Bidens frondosa

The culprit is Bidens frondosa. The common name is Devil’s Beggarticks. But where I grew up, we called them Devil’s Pitchforks. The weed is also called stick-tight or largeleaf beggarticks. There are more pictures here. and here. It’s a plant native to North America. Keep an eye out for them next summer.

Bidens frondosa seed-heads
Bidens frondosa seed-heads

Tangled Bank #116 at Pro-science

Welcome, science readers, to Tangled Bank 116, a collection of blog articles about science and medicine. It’s hosted by Kristjan Wager at Pro-science.

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Election results in Canada

Red, Liberal; blue, Conservative; orange, New Democratic Party; turquoise, Bloc Quebecois; green, Green Party; grey, independent. This is preliminary: a few districts might change, but the result is settled: another Conservative minority government.

The CBC’s interactive map has online voting results. You can click on the map, enter your postal code, or just check the summary, which refreshes every 30 seconds.

UPDATE: Final results:

  • Conservative, 143
  • Liberal, 76
  • Bloc Québecois, 50
  • NDP, 37
  • independent, 2
  • Green, 0
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