Friday, November 25, 2011

Going on a Gall Hike...

Fall is a great time to look for galls. You’ll find them on twigs and stems – even on fallen oak leaves and amongst the needles at the tips of spruce boughs.

Galls can be round, like the marble galls on oaks. They can be hard or soft. Galls can look like pineapples or tiny dots.

What kinds of galls do you find in your neighborhood? How big are they? Are they at the tips of stems or in the middle? Are they pointed or fuzzy or spiny or smooth?

Is there anybody home? The gall-maker might be inside, but there might be other insects as well. The oak-apple, made by a tiny gall wasp, has been known to house seventy-five different kinds of insects – including parasites on the gall-making insect!

Collect some galls and place them in a jar with a lid or a terrarium with a top. Something’s sure to come out. If you can’t wait, take a sharp knife and slice the gall open – you might find a larva all snuggled up for a winter’s sleep.

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