I’m on a gall mission. I’m determined to find an insect in an un-evacuated gall. When I saw these shrubs covered in beautiful galls I thought I had my chance:
Studying hundreds of galls with tiny holes (escape exits made by the insect) I finally found two without holes! Oh boy! Hello…Is anybody in there?
Let’s find out. Armed with an X-acto blade on a Saturday night, I decided to go in…
Damn. I couldn’t find anything that resembled an insect or larva but I did manage to pluck myself. Stupid, really sharp X-acto blade…
Dissecting the second gall had the same results. No insect, only brown pulpy material that was very flaky. What does this mean? Maybe they were just too small to see with my eye? Maybe I needed a magnifying glass? Maybe the insect died and disintegrated inside the gall becoming flaky? Maybe this isn’t even the right time of year to inspect galls? Will this stop my mission? No! Of course not! I will continue on. Injuries and all, in the name of science and a love for nature.
Chris- I think you hit the nail on the head- wrong season. When I find larvae in galls, it is usually when they are green, during the growing season. I’m under the impression that the insects lay eggs in a plant as the plant is growing, and the gall forms as the plant grows, along with the larvae inside. I have the most luck with goldenrod galls.
Interesting and educating post. I am ashamed to say that I have probably seen hundreds of these gall and always “assumed” it was some type of fungus. Had not a clue!!
Good luck on your continuing mission!! 🙂
Tom: You’re terrific! I will look forward to the summer when I can take samples of galls and find something amazing. 🙂
Alan: How wonderful we can pass free educational information via web blogs! I truly have learned more from my nature friends than in one semester of college, no doubt! I am very thankful to be able to pass any helpful information 😀