Readers’ wildlife photos

June 5, 2021 • 8:00 am

Thanks to those who sent in photos. If you haven’t done so recently, please email me your good photos. Thanks!

Today’s photos are of microscopic views of plants, and macroscopic views of oak galls, all by reader Bryan Lepore, whose captions and IDs are indented. Click the photos to enlarge them. (Note that we have a photo of a fall oak gall by Bryan from August of last year.)

Though I’d like to see you stand on your head, I will nonetheless offer some photos for wildlife.

There are two microscopy photos of plants from the garden. The leaves were simply shoved under the slide clips of a low-cost student microscope – it was maybe $30 on Amazon. I was surprised the method worked at all. An iPhone 6 was then used to capture the photos. I particularly like this sort of low-cost naive approach – remarkably good results with modern-simplistic equipment. I will try to find out the plant name and get back to you, but might not be soon.

One of the microscopy specimens is a green leaf from Kalmia latifolia :

The other photos are galls from an oak tree in the spring of 2021 in the Northern hemisphere in the Northeast. While trying to figure out what these galls were all about, a nifty green beetle appeared, so I include as a bonus – but she was not from the gall. I learned about galls having posted a purple one last fall that was on the ground. It seems the galls are Oak Apple Wasp galls according to a site at The Ohio State University.

… they turn brown in the fall and, to me, have been more recognizable at that time for some reason.

10 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

    1. Excellent! Looks like the Pale Green Weevil – these are from the Northeast United States.

    2. … and the linked article says it is an invasive from Europe in the early 1900s, but never really harms the hardwood population.

      … so perhaps “invasive” is a … what is the term… derogatory?…

      1. If they don’t cause harm or take over , perhaps the better term is naturalized. At least that’s the term I hear used for things like the common orange day lily Hemerocallis fulva.

        Anyway, those are great photographs, especially the inside view. Galls are fascinating. I use the app iNaturalist frequently and love finding new galls that get added to the Galls of Missouri project. There are 115 species identified so far in that project, not by me, of course, but by people who k ow what they’re doing, but it’s fun to contribute in a small way by adding observations.

  1. Wikipedia: ‘(Polydrusus impressifrons) are easily confused with Phyllobius, but are not as closely related as they seem at first glance.’

  2. The last picture shows a set of radiating filaments that support an inner chamber where the wasp larvae develops. The vast majority of these filaments are solid and serve as structural supports. There is a small subset of filaments, on a direct line from the base of the larval chamber to the leaf blade, that are hollow and conduct nutrients and water to the larval chamber.

    1. Fascinating – I always wondered about that – so it is one-gall-per-larva.

      These things still astonish me that they are insect-made, yet seem integrated with the leaf of the oak – it is sort of hard to believe!

      1. Some species of cynipid wasps, like those that make the oak apples, have one larva per gall (monothalamous), while others have multiple larvae per gall (polythalamous). In general, gall morphology is a species-specific characteristic. At the Smithsonian Institution, Kinsey’s (yes, the human sexuality guy) collection is organized by galls and by adult insects.

  3. Galls and gall wasps are remarkable in so many ways. My favorites are the tiny Phyllitis spp., jumping oak galls, or as I called them, “flea seeds.” In September, these rain down in oak groves. A few hundred in a plastic box made a great novelty — a constant blur as larvae do a “Mexican jumping bean” impression.

    And one can’t speak of gall wasps in North America without mentioning Alfred Kinsey’s remarkable study of the cynipids and their galls, leaving a collection of over 7 million specimens. These are now at the American Museum — see the article in the AMNH ‘Shelf Life’.

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