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Witch-hazel Cone Gall Aphids Laying Eggs

10-26-16-witch-hazel-gall-s20161017_5388At this time of year there is a species of aphid, Hormaphis hamamelidis, that is laying eggs on Witch-hazel branches. Next spring female aphids will hatch out of these eggs and begin feeding on newly-emerged Witch-hazel leaves. The aphids inject the leaf with a substance that causes the leaf to form a cone-shaped growth, or gall, around the insect, providing it with both food and shelter. The galls are hollow, and have openings extending out through the leaves’ lower surfaces. Within the galls the unmated female aphids produce 50 – 70 young. Eventually the galls fill with winged female aphids which emerge through the cone openings, disperse, and repeat the process. The third generation of aphids consists of both males and females which mate and lay their eggs on Witch-hazel. The aphids that hatch from these eggs create the conical galls found on Witch-hazel leaves.

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7 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    There is ever more to learn about the Natural World.

    October 26, 2016 at 7:58 am

  2. Having just planted my first witch hazel this past spring, I am looking forward to watching out for these galls. Thank you so much for all the fascinating minutiae of nature you share with us.

    October 26, 2016 at 8:06 am

  3. Penny March

    Weird and wonderful! Lots of Aunties-very few Uncles!

    October 26, 2016 at 9:22 am

  4. Holy ravioli (as a student of mine used to exclaim)! Another eccentric life cycle tale…
    Are the “bumps” attached to the leaves of other species (e.g. for one, maples) also likely to be galls of some sort?

    October 26, 2016 at 10:16 am

    • Yes, Dell, lots of different galls can be found on maples!

      October 26, 2016 at 3:53 pm

  5. Fascinating!

    October 26, 2016 at 10:59 am

  6. Amy and Michael Robinson

    All our best wishes for your special day. Sam, and congratulations to your immediate and extended family and friends. We are so very proud of your many accomplishments! Long life and happiness to you all. Love, Amy&Mike

    October 27, 2016 at 7:11 am

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