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Apiomorpha rosaeformis (scale insect gall)

Apiomorpha rosaeformis

Description:

I didn't know what to make of this spotting so I contacted the Queensland Museum and asked for help to identify it. It's a bizarre and creepy looking thing, and enough to make any trypophobe squirm. Anyway, this is the museum's response........ Dear Neil, the object is a gall. These are strange growths created when an insect establishes itself inside plant tissue and enforces unusual, and distinctive growth patterns in the plant to accommodate the insect's requirements. The shape and form of the gall is specific to different insects. See the following link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apiomorpha... We have had an expert examine your photos, and her reply is inserted below........ It is 'Apiomorpha rosaeformis', an uncommon species found along eastern Australia. The adult female scale insect lives in the small, tubular gall attached to the eucalypt leaf, and her sons form the "insect nest" of smaller tube galls to form a compound gall on the outside of their mother's gall. The males stay in their individual galls until they pupate into adults, emerge from their galls and look for other females to mate with before they die about 24-48 h later. The galls look fairly old, and I cannot see evidence of any males still in any of the tube galls in the images.

Habitat:

Toohey Forest is a eucalyptus woodland reserve of approximately 655 hectares. The forest is situated within an urban area on the south side of Brisbane, within the city limits. This spotting was along the Nathan Ridge Track, and I found this object directly beneath a small group of melaleuca trees (paperbarks) and surrounding eucalypt natives.

Notes:

Apiomorpha is a genus of scale insect that induces galls on species of Eucalyptus. It's unknown to me if there is any species preference, but no doubt the relationship between insect and tree is very one-sided. Some general information on gall-inducing insects - http://oneminutebugs.com.au/?p=366 Lyn Cook (Apiomorpha) - http://www.lyncook.org/Lyn_Cook/Apiomorp... (Apiomorpha rosaeformis) - http://scalenet.info/catalogue/Apiomorph... Galls of Victoria - https://natureshare.org.au/collections/g...

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26 Comments (1–25)

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 8 months ago

Thanks, Mark. I was fascinated by this thing, so much so that I had to call in the troops to ID it. The Queensland Museum is always very helpful.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 8 months ago

Not sure how I missed this one. Amazing base structure. Nice find Neil.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

The stem is the female gall, and the compound gall with the tubes is the male (sons) gall. An amazing structure, but they die so quickly afterwards. Nature is quite bizarre. So odd that US and Mexican eucalypts don't have the galls as well. Perhaps they were initially grown from actual seeds rather from imported seedling plants? You did get a beetle though, and it seems to enjoy chowing down on gum leaves :)

LaurenZarate
LaurenZarate a year ago

Your pictures are really unique compared to all the ones on your links, is the "stem thing" that has a hole under all the male galls supposed to be the female gall? I am amazed at all the different Eucalyptus kinds of galls and some are so huge, you would think they were fruits! California and Mexico are full of Eucalyptus now, but no galls. We only have one beetle so far that has made it to the California Eucalyptus. I found my first one on the Channel Islands 5 years ago! https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/41....

LaurenZarate
LaurenZarate a year ago

Marvelous! Congratulations!Can't believe you got an ID! Very cool. I never would have thought it was a gall, and made by male scales. Really neat and interesting life cycle.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Thanks, Sukanya, Gilma and Felix. It's my nature to be inquisitive and to find answers, but I also love mysteries and the thought of things beyond our comprehension. My inquisitive mind has also gotten the better of me. On PN, I do my best to ID all my spottings.

Felix Fleck
Felix Fleck a year ago

Awesome!

What an amazing find, Neil. Thanks for finding the ID...it is very interesting, it takes people like you to be inquisitive to the point of finding answers...I appreciate inquisitive minds...

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta a year ago

Not at all..Neil. This is such an unusual spotting
..I had been keeping an eye on it to check if an ID surfaced. Very happy to know what it is.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Thanks, Sukanya. Sorry, I should have scrolled down more. I am so happy to have this spotting correctly identified. Cheers to you for all your support, and to Sergio as well :)

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta a year ago

Hooray!!!!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Success! Hooray :) Lauren, Felix, and Machi, the Queensland Museum has not let me down. They have identified this spotting as Apiomorpha rosaeformis, an uncommon species of scale insect gall. I've put their exact response into the description. I'm really delighted with this, to have spotted something really unusual :D

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Thanks, Machi. That sounds totally reasonable. I didn't collect it as it's illegal here to remove anything from national parks, state forests and reserves, etc. I'm totally ok with that... so I hid it somewhere safe for future requirements :)

Machi
Machi a year ago

I am leaning towards gall, albeit a very strange one. You can see that the structure is all one piece, not eggs laid individually inside a structure. Also the little "stem" on the structure doesn't seem like something an insect would intentionally build. I hope you collected it! It seems like a very unusual specimen.

Felix Fleck
Felix Fleck a year ago

Yeah, I´ve never seen anything like it!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

I thought so at first too, and maybe it still is. I've looked at probably 1000 images and countless sites, so time to bring in the big guns. QM has helped me ID in the past, so they might be able to help with this one. It is such an odd specimen!

Felix Fleck
Felix Fleck a year ago

Some sort of gall, perhaps?

LaurenZarate
LaurenZarate a year ago

Me too! Hope they can help.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Lauren, I'm getting nowhere with my ID search so have just sent a request to the museum. Hopefully they can help. I'm busting to know who made this thing!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Thank you, Lauren. Will see how we fare here, but I can also send an e-mail with pics to the Queensland Museum. They have been very helpful in the past.

LaurenZarate
LaurenZarate a year ago

I've been looking also - nothing in Orthopteran eggs that even comes close. I'll keep looking too.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Thanks, Lauren. That's a good lead. Gotta start my search somewhere.

LaurenZarate
LaurenZarate a year ago

Yes, really weird! If I had to guess, I would say some kind of Orthopteran made it.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross a year ago

Thanks, Sergio and Sukanya. I'm intrigued too. It was the weirdest looking thing.

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta a year ago

Very odd...iI thought hexagon was the preferred shape for hives...going to keep an eye on ID hints that will surely come. Good stuff to spot! Very intriguing.

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

Queensland, Australia

Spotted on Jun 30, 2019
Submitted on Jun 30, 2019

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