The Daily Bucket is a place where we get together and share the things we've noticed in the natural world  around us. It might be that robins are building a nest in the old apple tree out back or that the crickets outside your window are keeping you awake at night or that coyote pups up on the ridge are beginning to sing with their parents every evening. Doesn't matter what it is, nothing noted is too big or too small, so please join in and tell us what is happening in your neck of the woods. Everyone is welcome. All we ask is that you give us an idea of where you're located.
Seattle. June 25, 2013.

July 17, 2011. Weird spiky things on Bald-hip Rose leaves.
July 17, 2011. Spiky structures on Wood Rose leaves

Back in the second week of July, 2011 I found some weird spiky things attached to the the leaves of a Bald-hip Rose (Rosa gymnocarpa) down at the southern edge of the Forest peninsula. I'd just started thinking about insects then, and had recently added an local insect identification book to my library. Voila! My newest book had a picture of something very similar - the gall of a tiny wasp of the family Cynipidae, Diplolepis polita.

I watched the galls all summer. They dried and darkened, then became hard. I'd hoped to be there when just one wasp crawled out of its sarcophagus, but that wasn't to be. Late in the summer I broke one open, greedy to see. It was more difficult than I'd expected. Inside was a tiny pale grub. I apologized.

My daily meanderings bring me by that stand of Bald-hip Roses a couple of times every week. Last summer I stopped every time I passed by, crouching and peering. There were no galls to be found. Not one. I figured that they'd moved on.

The southern edge of the Forest peninsula is open and bright, a long meadow to the north, cleared by the WPA, sloping down to a stand of Madrona and the last of the Garry Oaks that once claimed this landscape. Dry in the summer and a hiding place for Poison Oak. I walk cautiously along that path now, doing my best to keep away from the glossy leaves-of-three.

Yesterday I needed to twist a bit to avoid the Poison Oak, and found myself looking directly at some weird spiky things attached to the leaves of the same patch of Bald-hip Rose that had supported the galls in 2011. And more, on another patch a few feet away.

June 24, 2013. Diplolepis polita galls.Seattle. The Forest peninsula. June 24, 2013. Diplolepis polita gall on Rosa gymnocarpa.
This year's galls may have appeared three weeks earlier than they did in 2011, but I can't say for sure. They may well have been there in late June that year, but I wasn't looking for them then. The may not appear again until 2015, but I know where to look now.

What I still find both fascinating and horrifying is this:

Inside the galls the wasp larvae are feeding and growing. In a way that isn't understood yet, the act of their feeding stimulates the growth of the gall, which in turn supports the larvae's development. The larvae will overwinter inside the galls and will emerge next year to lay their eggs in new leaves and start the process over again.

July 18, 2011 - "The Daily Bucket - Diplolepis galls

Seattle. June 24, 2013. Diplolepis polita galls are present on Bald-hip Rose leaves, in the same location where they were present in mid July, 2011. No galls were present in 2012.


What's happening in your natural neighborhood? Everyone's welcome to add their observations and questions to the Bucket.

I'll be back around 1pm PDT for a bit, and again around dinner time.

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