I assume you are probably already familiar with it, but if not I highly recommend Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney’s book Tracks & Signs of Insects and Other Invertebrates. It’s a fantastic guide with lots of detail about things like galls and egg cases and silken hides and whatnot. Great photos and explanatory text. Charley’s also awesome about responding quickly to mystery photos posted to Bugguide. Thanks for posting so much cool content! I’m glad I found your blogs. :-)

Hello there! Funny you mention it, I discovered Charley Eiseman yesterday while I was trying to ID some tricky galls I found in my yard last week. I only noticed them after I crouched down to investigate the harlequin bug eggs that were attached to a nearby sapling [link]. The pink caught my eye, and since I was in “excited insect egg” mode, I thought these were eggs of some sort. I’m new to trying to ID eggs, so that was my wild guess since I hadn’t seen any galls like this in person. Technically, they’re not not eggs?


I posted them to iNat [link], and didn’t get any IDs from people. The next day, I wanted to go back and check on the harlequin bug eggs, and I noticed MORE pink spikes on another leaf, and made another iNat observation [link]:


I am lucky to live in an area with a very active naturalist community. I was at a bioblitz on Sunday and met a guy I have been interacting with pretty heavily on iNat (I love introducing myself to people with my username and see how excited they get to meet me in person!). This guy saw my observation of these galls and identified the plant as a hackberry. Knowing the host plant is the most important step in doing these gall IDs, and after I googled “hackberry gall,” I saw a picture of my galls after scrolling for what seemed like forever:


Image is © Charley Eiseman, see his post about them here [link]. The image above is of the Hackberry Horn Gall (Celticecis cornuata) specimen he sent off to the entomologist who described this midge as a new species in 2013. 

You cannot comprehend how excited I was to (1) ID this under-documented species (there is currently only one, not so great photo of these galls on bugguide [link]–I submitted my photos as an ID request because I kept getting yelled at for being wrong, but nobody’s commented on my page [link] so I might just add my photos anyway) (2) be one of the few people to see AND document it, and (3) specifically request an iNaturalist admin to add the species page because it wasn’t in the system yet.

Next steps: I’m going to go back out into my yard at some point this week and see if I can dig up the sapling these are on and move it closer to the house. I want to watch them hatch! Also, I have access to some pretty fancy microscopes at work, so I can dissect one under a light microscope, and THEN use the scanning electron microscope to get super high resolution images. STAY TUNED.

Reposted from http://ift.tt/2nsdcze.

Tags: insects, galls, small but doughty, insects that aren't actually visible and so presumably sally-safe?.

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