Community Event

Insect–Induced Plant Galls of California

Saturday | October 07, 2017 | 8:00 am — 5:00 pm

Plant galls provide a fascinating array of color and texture on many of the plants in our California landscape. Galls, growths of plant cells that are not normal plant organs, can be induced by a number of organisms. The most numerous as well as most beautiful and intriguing are those induced by insects. Two insect families are found only in plant galls: Cynipidae (gall wasps) and Cecidomyiidae (gall midges or gnats). Plant galls also host a whole ecology of other insects, including herbivorous inquilines and carnivorous parasitoids like the wasp family Ormyridae, which is found only in plant galls. Most of these organisms are too small for us to see, so that the only thing we notice is the colorful gall growth itself.

In this workshop, we will start by exploring the diversity of extant insect-induced plant galls and the community of species found within them. Our study will begin with a series of lectures covering gall induction, development, plant host specificity, and inducer life histories using Joyce Gross’ excellent photographic images of galls and gall insects. We will then take a short campus field trip to learn how to find galls. Back in the classroom, we will dissect galls under microscopes to examine their intricate structures and view the occupiers. We will wrap up with discussion about the evolution of the plant host-plant gall interrelationships with examples from fossil galls.

Co-sponsored by the Essig Museum of Entomology and the University of California Museum of Paleontology.

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