What are these silvery-gray balls hanging out on stems in the field? They're goldenrod galls. Late last summer, when the goldenrod stems were fresh and green, a gall fly laid an egg - or two or three - at the base of the flowers. In response to the irritation, the goldenrod grew a gall around each larva, which the fly larva turned into a cozy home to spend the winter.
With good luck, the fly larva would pupate and then, this spring it would chew its way out around May. But these galls look like someone pecked a hole in them, looking for a snack. A downy woodpecker or chickadee perhaps?
Check out this article for more about how gall flies, wasps, and birds are connected with this common "weed" the goldenrod. And then go look for a few galls on dried goldenrod plants along roads and fields, vacant lots, or wherever weeds are bound to thrive in your neighborhood.
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