Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Abandoned nurseries

Along the fence around the campsites at Bull Canyon, a small stand of aspens has sprung up. Most are still under 8 feet tall. And most, this year, are sporting lumpy blackish growths along the stems.

What lived inside this? About 2 inches across.

I broke a few off. They were all hollow and dry, as thin and fragile as eggshells. There was no sign of their previous occupants.

This one seems to incorporate a dried leaf.

I looked up aspen galls, and found leaf galls;, small blobs that grow right at the base of the leaves and twig galls; small, smooth balls lined up along a twig, but nothing like these.

Most of the galls had several holes that looked more like chickadee predation than insect exit holes. I have watched chickadees with thimbleberry galls in the winter, pounding away at them until they crack open. Somehow they know there's good meat inside that hard casing; maybe the larva inside moves around, makes some sound that we can't hear, but the chickadee can.


  1. Nature is amazing. What about some kind of wasp? - Margy

  2. Yes, it definitely could be a wasp; they make a lot of galls. I wonder if I could send in just the photo of galls to BugGuide.

  3. Neat! Yes, there's a specific page on Bugguide for unknown galls, and Charley Eiseman (the author of the wonderful book Tracks and Sign of Insects) checks it regularly and IDs stuff. If you're logged in there should be a submit image link at the top of the page. Here's the link:

  4. Sara, I've submitted the galls to BugGuide. I didn't realize they had a page for galls. Thanks for the suggestion!

  5. What a cool mystery blob! I hope you hear something back from BugGuide and share it with us.

  6. Jodi, Yes I will. I haven't heard yet, but I'm sure they'll answer soon.


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