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Free images -  Insects - Galls

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Galls, which look like bulges on some plants, are homes as well.  There are tiny insects living inside of them!  Small "galls" are actually hibernation dens.  

A fly called the "Goldenrod Gall Fly"  [Eurosta solidaginis] is a parasite and lays its eggs on the stem of a Goldenrod plant.  The female fly injects her egg-laying tube called an "ovipositor" into the Goldenrod stem.  In about 10 days the larvae hatch and begin to eat the inside of the Goldenrod stem.  The swelling and creation of the round-shaped gall is the plant's response to the insect living inside.  The larva is laid in spring and will live inside the plant for the entire summer.  Sometimes the galls become very large - about the size of a ping-pong ball.

As winter approaches, the larvae produce a chemical that prevents them from dying in the cold weather.  This chemical is very much like anti-freeze.

Unless eaten by predators such as other insects or birds, the larva turn into grubs and then adults that will emerge next spring.  Many birds have learned to look for large galls in order to get a tasty meal.  

  Did you know....   

that there are two types of parasitic wasps - Eurytoma gigantea and Eurystoma obtusiventris that steal the galls made by the Goldenrod Gall Flies?  These two wasps hunt for galls in which to lay their own eggs.  The Eurytoma obtusiventris lays its eggs inside the Gall Fly larva while the Eurytoma gigantea eats the whole gall fly and takes its place in the gall.

Why are some galls round and some elliptical?

Round galls are created by the Goldenrod Gall FLY, while elliptical galls are created by the Goldenrod Gall MOTH [Epiblema scudderiana].  The moth's life cycle is much the same as that of the fly, except that their galls are more camouflaged, and elongated.  All images of galls below were made by Goldenrod Gall Flies.

 

goldenrod plant in bloom

Goldenrod - 2
This is the Goldenrod plant in bloom.  Although it is a wildflower, 
it is considered by some to be a type of weed based on its aggressive spreading habit.

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round green gall on goldenrod plant

Gall - 2

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round green gall growing on goldenrod stem

Gall - 3

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multiple galls growing on goldenrod plants

Gall - 4

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round green galls growths on goldenrod stems

Gall - 5

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round ball tumour gall on goldenrod plant stem

Gall - 6

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interior cross section of gall growing on goldenrod plant

Gall - 7

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cross section of tumour gall growing on goldenrod plant stem

Gall - 8

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interior of gall growing on goldenrod plant

Gall - 9

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interior hole of gall tumour growing on goldenrod plant'

Gall - 10

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In the winter, the galls and stems dry and turn brown.  There are often fields of Goldenrod growing together.

 

dried brown goldenrod gall

Goldenrod Gall - 1
This is the neat exit hole made by the Goldenrod Gall Fly as it left the gall in spring.
If the edges of the hole were ragged or torn, the gall would have been 
preyed upon by a predator.

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goldenrod gall cross section showing larva in chamber

Gall Cross Section - 1

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Before winter, the larva eats a tunnel to the surface of the gall but returns to the center where it lays dormant for the winter.  For photography purposes, in order to find the larva, some of the interior contents of the gall were removed.  This Eurosta is partly in the tunnel that leads to the surface.

 

two larva inside the goldenrod gall

Gall Cross Section - 2

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It is unusual to find two larva in one gall.  This is the larvae of either the Eurosta or the Eurytoma gigantea wasp which eats the Eurosta.

 

two larva in a gall cross section of goldenrod gall

Gall Cross Section - 3
The larvae of either the Eurosta or the Eurytoma gigantea wasp larvae which eats the Eurosta.

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gall grub wasp larva on fingertip

Gall Grub - 1
 Eurytoma gigantea - wasp larva which eats Eurosta;

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wasp and beetle larva causing pupation in gall grub

Gall Grubs - 1
Based on research, I believe the larva above to be, from the left:
Left:  Eurytoma gigantea - wasp larva which eats Eurosta;
Middle:  Eurytoma obtusiventris - wasp larva which makes Eurosta pupate prematurely;
Right:  Mordellistena convicta - beetle larva that sometimes eats Eurosta. 

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