Bug Love and Galls

Bug love on boneset, 31 Aug 2020 (photo by Kate St. John)

5 September 2020

This week saw flurries of warblers migrating through Pennsylvania and a lot of bug love. The bugs were easy to photograph at Moraine State Park on 31 August.

Above, two insects are frozen in place as they mate on a boneset flower. I don’t know who they are. Do you?

Below, we were astonished to see large reddish galls on staghorn sumac leaves. These are woolly aphids called Melaphis rhois, one of the few whose eggs cause galls.

Melaphis rhois, staghorn sumac leaf galls, Moraine State Park, 31 Aug 2020 (photo by Kate St. John)

According to Wikipedia:

The galls occur when female aphids lay a single egg on the underside of the sumac leaf, inducing the leaf to form a sac over the egg.

There are so many galls on this sumac that they look like fruit.

Melaphis rhois, staghorn sumac leaf galls, Moraine State Park, 31 Aug 2020 (photo by Kate St. John)

It’s also called “red pouch gall.”

Melaphis rhois, staghorn sumac leaf galls a.k.a red pouch galls, Moraine State Park, 31 Aug 2020 (photo by Kate St. John)

My friend Melissa bravely opened a gall which scattered white powder everywhere. Woolly aphids!

Melaphis rhois — the inside of the gall, 31 Aug 2020 (photo by Kate St. John)

Inside the gall we easily saw larvae and a few adults.

Melaphis rhois inside their gall, 31 Aug 2020 (photo by Kate St. John)

How will they overwinter?

More bug love then next year’s galls.

(photos by Kate St. John)

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