Fuzzy Brown Things Everywhere! – Leaf Galls

Gall Wasp on an Oak Leaf

Yesterday, my 5 year old and I found the largest leaf gall I’ve ever seen. We’re never sure exactly what insect they’re from when we find one, but it’s always fun examining them. Galls appear as the result of an insect, mite, or fungal or bacterial irritation and can be found most any time of the year, depending on the cause or type of insect. They can be fuzzy, like this one, or smooth. Some even have hard spikey nodules covering the outside. Most of the ones we have found have been like this one and are made by insects that lay their eggs on the plant leaves or stems. The gall casing and plant host house the eggs and later serve as a food source for the young. The offspring, once hatched, dig their way out, then ants, spiders and beneficial insects such as lacewing larvae move in, or so we’re told! As I understand it, galls like this one are generally harmless and can actually be beneficial because of the hatch cycle described. Some floral arrangements even use fuzzy galls as an attractive addition… I’m not sure how I feel about that! We’re far from experts, but we like to observe them and enjoy the wonder of this odd creation from nature.

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