Beggar’s lice, also called stick tights, beggar ticks, or tick trefoil, is a perennial plant that “hitchhikes” on humans and animals to disperse its seeds. The seeds have hooks that enable them to stick to any surface that brushes against them.

As you probably know from experience, these seeds can be very bothersome to remove. To help you out, we’ve put together four effective methods to remove them from your clothes.

How To Identify Beggar’s Lice?

Hackelia_virginianaBefore you use any of these methods, you first need to determine if you’re dealing with beggar’s lice, as these are not the only plants known to stick to clothes.

Beggars lice can grow up to 2-4 feet tall, the perfect height to reach almost any length of clothes. The leaves of this plant grow on alternate sides of the stem and are trifoliate.

The flowers are usually hard to spot and look like bean or pea flowers— ranging between white, violet, and pink. The sticky seeds are tiny and often brown

The seeds contain numerous hair-like structures called barbs that cling onto any suitable surface, such as clothes, animal fur, or even bare skin. 

How to Remove Beggar’s Lice From Clothes Effectively?

Use the steps below to get rid of the stubborn flowers and seeds.

1. Put Your Clothes In A Washing Machine

washing-machineIt isn’t easy to get the plant or its seeds off your clothes with just your fingers— there are likely too many sticking around. Put the clothes in a washing machine to loosen them up.

Ensure the machine is on a low setting and use warm water. After washing, dry the clothes. Most of the seeds or flowers should have already disappeared.

However, if they are still aplenty, you can use this method as a first step to loosen their grip before trying other methods.

Pros

● Easy to perform

● Doesn’t take time

● Efficient

Cons

● Might not get rid of all the seeds.

2. Use Tweezers

tweezersIf you prefer to remove the pesky seeds without washing your clothes, you can try using tweezers.

Although this method is more effective than using bare hands, as the tweezers have a better grip, it’s only sensible to use them when you have just a few stuck seeds. Otherwise, it can be equally troublesome and time-consuming.

Ensure you’re gentle while plucking so you don’t damage your clothes. 

Pros

● Effective

● Easy to perform

Cons

● Consumes too much time

● Might not be ideal when there are too many seeds to remove

3. Use Other Available Tools

beggars-lice-seedsIf you can find any other tool around your home that serves the purpose, feel free to use it. However, be careful not to ruin your clothes. A butter knife, pocket knife, or comb can help lift the plant off the fabric.

First, stretch the cloth as you work so you can see where to lift off the seeds without the tool touching the fabric. When using a comb, it’s best to use a plastic one on delicate clothing. However, if you need to use a metal comb, be careful.

Pros

● These tools are easy to find

● Effective

Cons

● If you’re not careful, you might damage your clothes.

4. Brush Your Clothes

Another effective way to remove beggars’ lice from your clothes is by brushing them. This works well on rough and tough fabrics such as denim.

For other materials, it might be harder to brush them off without damage — for example, wool.

To use this method, spread the cloth on a flat surface and use a thick bristle brush to remove the plant remains. Deploy a softer brush for delicate fabrics.

When there are fewer seeds or flowers left stuck on the fabric, you can then pluck them out with a tool or tweezer.

Pros

● Quick and efficient

● Doesn’t take time

Cons

● Not suitable for every fabric

● Can drain you out 

How To Avoid A Beggars Lice Attack On Your Clothes?

You should wear appropriate clothing when going through areas known to be populated with this plant. Fabrics like fleece, denim, and cotton, are attractive to beggars’ lice.

However, corduroy or nylon are less susceptible to the seeds of this plant. If you don’t have the required clothing, steer clear of the plants as far as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is beggar’s lice?

Beggars lice is a trailing legume in the Fabaceae family. Although it’s commonly referred to as beggar’s lice, its real name is Hackelia virginiana. This plant got its nickname from its characteristics of sticking firmly to a surface and being difficult to remove.

Does beggar’s lice spoil clothes?

Technically, the plant doesn’t spoil clothes. The seeds of the plant stick to the fabric but don’t cause damage. Usually, the damage to the clothes comes from pulling the seeds.

Where are beggar’s lice plants found?

The plants are often found in rocky or sandy soils. They also dwell in disturbed soils. It’s not unusual to see them around the roadside since they love full or partial sun. This plant is found in almost every part of the world but is native to North America

Can I pluck out beggar’s lice?

Yes, you can pluck out the plant’s seeds from your clothes. However, you need to do it carefully.

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