“Pine Cone Gall on Sandbank Willow” – Whitevale, Ontario

“Pine Cone Gall on Sanbank Willow” - Whitevale, Ontario

Pinecones on willows? I keep seeing these pin cone-like structures on the ends of sandbank willow branches along Duffins creek and always wondered what they were. They actually are not a natural part of the willow, but rather, the homes of Pinecone Willow Gall-midges (Rhabdophaga strobiloides). These midges secrete a chemical that forces the willow to create these pinecone-like pods to provide the midges food and shelter. The adult midge lays its eggs in the terminal bud of the plant in the early spring and the willow begins to form the pods. The larval infection does not seem to have any adverse effects on the willow. In fact, some of the ‘infected’ branches look larger than the non-infected ones. Bio-chemistry in the insect world!

I did notice that some of the pods have burst open into what looks like a dried flower. Nature is truly amazing. I’ll have to pay closer attention to these next time I’m out.

Nikon D300
Nikor 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 140 mm
1/160 sec @ f/7.1, ISO 250

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