Here I’ll be sharing some photographs I’ve recently taken as well as some of my favorites from my forthcoming book Naturally Curious. I’ll be updating my blog periodically with new images, new stories, and more glimpses of New England in all seasons.
GOLDENROD BALL GALL RAIDED BY DOWNY WOODPECKER
This is a good time of year to find goldenrod ball galls – spherical swellings on the stems of dead goldenrod stalks. These growths have provided a home and food for the fly larva that has resided inside them all winter. In the spring, an adult female lays an egg on the goldenrod stem. When it hatchs, the larva bores into the stem, and the plant reacts by growing tissue around it. The larva chews a tunnel almost, but not quite, all the way to the outside of the gall (while it has chewing mouth parts), then crawls back to the center of the gall, where it is sheltered and can consume its home throughout the winter, until it pupates and emerges the following spring as an adult, via the tunnel it chewed. It bursts through the thin, outermost layer of tissue by repeatedly inflating and deflating its “forehead” against it..