01.24.2014 Wool Sower

Steve Schwartzman brought up the subject of galls in his recent blog post of an Oak Gall.  Most often they are just a plain lump or roundish growth found on a leaf or stem.  Many species of plants are gall hosts which most often are caused by an insect looking for a safe structure for its young to develop.  This usually happens early in the growth cycle of the plant and develops as a result, most often, of injection of some chemical from the adult or larva.  Often the larva will consume some of the interior structure as it grows toward adulthood.

While most galls are fairly plain in shape and coloration, others can be colorful and interesting.  I have not photographed many, but one day while hiking at High Ledges I noticed these Wool Sower galls on s small White Oak sapling along the Waterthrush Trail.

Wool-sower-Gall-052012-800FBWool Sowers are Cynipidae or Gall Wasps.  Bugguide does not have an image of this wasp Callirhytis seminator, but they look similar to these.


Ain’t nature something else?  🙂

About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Animal Behavior, Closeup Photography, Insect Behavior, macro photography, Massachusetts Audubon, Nature Photography, Patterns in Nature, Western Massachusetts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to 01.24.2014 Wool Sower

  1. shoreacres says:

    So much for my assumption that all galls are divided into brown and green. This is beautiful. I can see how it got its name, too. Those look for all the world like someone’s knitting group got together to make caps for babies in the hospital, or pompoms for big people’s caps.

    I discovered that these galls can be pulled apart to reveal the seed-like structures that contain developing wasps. That would be fun.


    • Nature is just full of surprises, eh? I thought about the pulling, which goes against my philosophy, and also wondered why no one seems to have done so on BugGuide since, unlike me, they mostly have no qualms about sticking needles in bugs…after a stay in a killing jar.
      My mother used to knit caps with the pompoms for my brother and me, but I would always remove them. Now it wouldn’t bother me as I can live with my lack of “cool”, but all my toques are pompomless.


  2. Faith says:

    Beautiful Steve, I’m, very much, enjoying the educational aspect of your blog!


  3. Jim in IA says:

    Those are pretty. Nice discovery. If I were a wasp, I’d be proud to shack up in that.


  4. That’s an excellent picture of a type of gall that’s unusually attractive due to both its colors and its woolly texture. The neutral green background is especially appropriate to bring out the red.


  5. Andrew says:

    Terrific photos Steve. Completely new to me and I want one! I am also intrigued at the Waterthrush trail. I looked up WT and discovered it is a warbler! What a swizz. Are they common there? Any pics?


    • I’ve only seen a couple, Andrew, and none so far at that trail. I have not photographed a Waterthrush as I rarely am able to get close enough to any small bird. I lack the stealth and wiles for that having only a 300. I’ve been fortunate enough to get a couple smaller birds in the past. Maybe this can be a trend. Someone else mentions something and I will follow up with a post. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  6. One wonders why these are so showy? The gall forms under the chemical influence of the wasp and as a safe haven for the development of its parasitic young. Why and the heck call attention to one’s place of residence? I cannot imagine the adaptive significance of the color and fancy ornamentation? Maybe I shouldn’t assume there is any and that all of this is simply a side-consequence of normal development in this particular type of gall? Pretty picture! D


    • I read a Zen proverb the other day that both explains and leaves us to continue questioning, David. “No snowflake falls in the wrong place”.

      We generally believe that everything in evolution happens for a reason as you describe in questioning why the fluffy colorful exterior. Possibly there is something we are not seeing in nature that this would mimic to confuse a predator or there is something about the exterior that would discourage entry by a parasite. Or maybe it just developed to look as it does much as the snowflake lands in the right spot.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Amazing~even a gall can be gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I had no idea that there was that much variation in galls. The Wool Sower galls are actually pretty with interesting color.


  9. Steve, somehow I did not get back to commenting. I find the woolly one and the apple gall very pretty. We have galls here but not anything that is remotely pretty and interesting. The galls here are round and apple green but I think they are cute. I see them on the oak trees and some years galls appear in large numbers.


    • I am not sure if I have heard cute and gall in the same sentence before, Yvonne. But it works for me. 🙂 I imagine that galls, as do most organisms, have boom and bust years depending on their numbers and environmental conditions.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Just Rod says:

    Just amazing Steve. I’ve never seen anything like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That is one beautiful gall, Steve! Nicely captured. It is probably the prettiest I have ever seen.

    Liked by 1 person

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