This week in Massachusetts we had a couple of warm sunny fall days which for the front of my house means ladybugs swarms. The ladybugs come out in droves looking for hibernation spots. A couple years ago there were so many that you could see the whole front of our house teeming with insects from the street.
While walking the dog this week I also started noticing some small pom pom looking things all over the sidewalk. I looked it up and these little pods are called galls. Galls can form on almost any part of a tree and are caused by (generally very tiny) wasps, mites, molds or fungi. These instigators cause a reaction in the tree or plant to form the gall and have a fondness for certain plant and tree species (it looks like these came from oak trees). Fascinating. If you look up pictures online, I’d guess you’ve seen different sorts of galls on different plants yourself (I bet you can walk outside and find maple leaf galls if your leaves haven’t all changed yet). The wasps and mites cause and live inside galls don’t cause harm to plants or humans, and some live inside until adulthood. I read several anecdotes where someone cracked open a gall and was stung by the wasp living inside, so watch out if you are doing your own discovery! (When I split mine, it just looked like a soft seed!)