Robin’s Pin Cushion

A Robin’s Pin Cushion, otherwise known as a Bedeguar Gall, is caused when a minute gall wasp (Diplolepis rosae of the Family Cynipidae) lays its eggs in a wild rose, usually in the leaves. The plant reacts in this characteristic way to the insertion of the egg, and the response it is thought to provide more food and a better environment in which the larvae can develop when the eggs hatch out. The rose itself still flourishes, and its survival is not affected by the formation of these galls. The dog rose on which I found these brightly coloured specimens is beside one of the wooden benches that are placed around the cricket pitch in the village.

Oak Spangle galls

Galls smother the undersides of oak leaves this September in and around Charlton Down and further afield. The oaks in the Nature Reserve and in the grounds on the south side of Greenwood House are affected. The galls are common and I have often seen them in other years too. The exact shape is dictated by the type of wasp that has laid its eggs in the leaf. The ones like small rough brown discs with a raised centre are Spangle Galls made by the Cynipid wasp Neuroterus quercusbaccarum. The small round golden galls with a depressed centre, a donut-shape of silk threads, are made by the wasp Neuroterus nimismalis. Some leaves have both species of gall.

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Lime Tree Leaves

The village has many magnificent mature Lime trees, and also smaller younger ones. Their lime green heart-shaped leaves freshly opened are a delight to see, whether in the full sun of the day or the gentle evening light. They are sometimes be-decked with strange bright red growths. These are Nail Galls, a characteristic reaction of the leaf to an invasion by small mites called Eriophyes tiliae which only live in leaves of this type.