Gall Hunt Part One, 08-27-21

I got up around 6:00 this morning. After feeding the dog and letting him go potty, I headed out to the Johnson-Springview Park with my friend Roxanne to go gall hunting. It was about 68º when we got there, and the air was smoky. It also seemed a bit humid. I was really looking forward to finding galls on the trees there; it’s usually a treasure house of them because there are so many oaks and so many different species.

We were able to check out a series of blue oaks in the front of the park, and found lots of different galls including Saucer galls, Red Striped Volcano galls, Clustered galls, Crystalline galls, Peach galls, Plate galls, Gray Midribs, Coral galls, Disc galls, Hair Stalk galls, and a very few, very small Urchin galls. The Crystalline galls were all clustered against one another, completely covering many of the leaves on which we saw them. They were losing most of their color by now, but still very recognizable. And I was super happy to see the Coral galls; I’ve only ever found them at this park.

That was an auspicious start to our day, but after about 90 minutes, I started to feel really sick: dizzy, nauseated, sweaty. I sat down on a rock and Roxanne brought the car around as close to me as she could. I thought if I sat for a bit and had some water in the air-conditioned car I’d feel better. But then I felt like I had to vomit, so I got out of the car in search of a restroom facility. We were next to a brown building that I thought might house a restroom, but no such luck. I upchucked a bit on the outside wall (and that will probably show up on their security cameras if they have them; D’oh!) Then I saw the restrooms on the other side of a lawn so I headed toward them. Thankfully, when I got there, the first door I tried was open and I was able to settle in on one of the commodes. Stuff came out of both ends -- which is always fun, not -- and once that hideousness was over I felt a lot better. I don’t know what my body’s issue was. A combination of meds, breakfast, smoke and humidity I’m assuming. But, yuck, that is NOT how I wanted to spend the morning.

When I came out of the restroom, Rox was there to help usher me back to the car. I was kind of determined not to give up, so we rolled the car over next to some sycamore trees by the parking area. I was hoping we’d see some lace bugs, but nope. Instead we found an odd, stringy-looking fungus on the back of one of the leaves.

Then we rolled the car over to another spot in the parking area next to a small patch of oaks. There were some Blue Oaks, a Live Oak, and a Valley Oak tree in that one little area. Didn’t see much of anything on the Live Oak, but on the Valley Oak we found a few Red Cone galls and Spiney Turban galls.

Here are the photos from today:

The big find, for me, was a “lifer” for us, a gall we’d never seen before: the fuzzy convolutions left by the Erineum mites (Aceria trichophila). We’d seen something similar to these on Live Oak tree leaves in our area, but the ones on the Live Oaks (Eriophyes mackiei) leave a kind of rusty residue on the back of the leaf where the mites have been feeding. Here, on the Blue Oaks, the mites create a concave “nest” for themselves, dressed in white hairs, on the back of the leaves, which then leave a convex lumpy mound on the top of the leaf. We only found them on one tree but there seemed to be a lot of them, affecting groups of leaves. What was cool about these -- besides the fact that we’d never seen them before -- was that I had just been reading about them the night before in Russo’s book (page 106).

By then it was 10-ish and already getting warm enough outside that sweat was running down the back of my neck, ick. So, we decided to call it a day. We’ll come back in a week or so, weather permitting, and check out more of the trees in the back of the park.

We walked for about 2 hours. This was hike #73 in my annual hike challenge.

Rox and I decided to try out the Granite Rock Grille for breakfast, and I was actually surprised by how hungry I was after being sick earlier. I had a Santa Fe Scramble with country potatoes, salsa and iced tea. The service there is a little slow, but the food is always very good.

Posted on September 10, 2021 07:21 PM by simpylmare55 simpylmare55


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