Maple Eyespot Gall

Maple Eyespot Gall Midge, Acericecis ocellaris

I’m disappearing for the weekend to visit my parents for Father’s Day, but as my sister, whom I’m carpooling with, is late, I have time to share a quick photo.

I found this leaf at Maplewood Bog, one of our three MAPS stations. It was near the edge of a poor fen that curls around the northeastern corner of our site, and I spotted it as I walked the water’s edge looking for dragonflies. Leaf galls aren’t that unusual themselves, but this one was pretty interesting for the pattern – perfectly round, pale spots bordered in dark, vibrant pinks and purples. The leaf itself is a Red Maple, an not uncommon species at the site.

Looking it up in my marvelous Tracks & Sign of Insects by Eiseman and Charney, I learned that these are the work of a Maple Eyespot Gall Midge, Acericecis ocellaris. These tiny midges lay their eggs on the underside of new leaves in May; the larvae form these distinctive circular galls while they feed through June. The galls themselves can be variable in colour, from greenish-yellow to bright cherry red, and may or may not have the colour repeated in a central spot to create the “eyespot” of the common name. Eventually the larvae drop from the leaf to pupate in the soil; once they’re gone, the galls turn a uniform brown as the leaf material dies. The species uses Red Maple almost exclusively as its host plant, with just occasional occurrences of galls on other maples and rare instances on other trees.


The Moth and Me #1

The first edition of the new blog carnival The Moth and Me is now up over at NAMBI. Although we’re still waiting for spring to settle in through much of the north here, the southern hemisphere is just wrapping up summer, and in the tropics they don’t see winter at all. I may not see another moth for another couple of weeks, but in the meantime, we can live vicariously through the posts of others – head on over to check it out!

Today at Kingsford – Ruffed Grouse trail

Ruffed Grouse trail

This is a follow-up to my post here, where I mentioned the prints in the snow left by a departing grouse. Yesterday I took Raven for her walk to the same spot where we’d encountered the grouse before. Once again, we accidentally flushed three grouse – in a slightly different spot, but same general area.

What was interesting about this encounter was that the grouse seemed to have been foraging when we disturbed it. There was a trail pushed through the deep snow that lead to where the grouse had flushed up from. And the most interesting part was that there were bits of the trail that were under the surface of the snow. I’m not sure if this is where the grouse had pushed under a fallen log or branch or something, and the branch had supported the snow in that section, or if the grouse had just dug deep enough through the snow to not break the surface. Either way, I thought it was neat.

The grouse’s departure print is on the left. You can get a better look at the full-sized image. The feather prints on this one were nice and clear. The photo’s illuminated by flash, which makes it look like it’s the middle of night, but it was actually about sunset – I just couldn’t hold the camera still enough long enough to get an ambient-light shot under the forest canopy.

In other news, drop by tomorrow for the 92nd edition of I and the Bird! I promise it will be fun…

Blogs and carnivals

A few blog-related news items that I have been accumulating to put into one post.

First, I and the Bird edition #91 has just been posted over at From the Faraway, Nearby. TR has done a great job with this compilation, creating a travel-themed issue full of interesting links. Lots of interesting reading and new blogs to be discovered, so head over to check it out!

I’ll be hosting edition #92. I would love to have some contributions from some of my readers and folks who haven’t participated before. The only criterion is that the post must be bird-themed, and you’re only allowed to submit one post per blog – but the blog doesn’t necessarily need to be your own. Leave a comment here or email me at sanderling [at] symbiotic [dot] ca with your link if you’d like to participate.

Second, Festival of the Trees edition #31 has been up for about a week, at Rock Paper Lizard. Hugh is one of my must-read blogs every day, and he has written an enjoyable installment for this monthly carnival. Be sure to pop by to read all the great posts he’s brought together.

Finally, it seems that every year in mid-winter, sometime in January, I begin developing a mild case of cabin fever. I itch for the warm weather and the green foliage and the teeming life. Last year I began this blog in part as a way to scratch that itch. This year I hope to put it to productive use in sorting some of my photos, in particular my moths which are currently stagnating in a generic catch-all folder. However, I am also hoping to use some of this nervous energy to forward my writing career. Among other things, I’d like to flex my writing muscles a bit more. One of the common pieces of advice I often see given to aspiring writers it to write every day in a journal. I write a fair bit here, but I don’t spend a lot of time talking about non-nature things. I’ve had a second blog kicking around empty for a while so I’ve decided to put it to use as a place to write about whatever comes to mind. I won’t be writing to it as often as here, but will post to it two or three times a week, perhaps. If you’re interested, you can check it out at The Glade.