Friday, 20 September 2013

Back to Normal

Following our trip to the Mediterranean, it's all back to normal now and we have been enjoying a few walks around our 'home patch'.  The trees on Shipley Hill are always wonderful and with the sun getting lower in the sky, the light shining through the leaves often makes a lovely spectacle.  With a little digital manipulation, the scene can be made even more beautiful.
No camera trickery is required when looking at the Larch trees (Larix decidua) and their newly mature cones decorating the branches.  A slight sprinkling of dew on the needles makes things a little more interesting.
Many of our trees show signs of attack by insects at this time of year.  The hardest hit of these trees are always the Oaks.  The under-side of the leaves of the Oak trees are coated in small Spangle Galls caused by the Cynipid wasp Neuroterus Quercusbaccarum.  Adult Wasps will emerge from these spangle galls in Spring, having over-wintered among the leaf-litter.  More prominent than the spangles are the Cherry Galls.  These are also to be found on the underside of Oak leaves but are much larger and, as the name implies, look like cherries attached to the leaf.  Here, a Cherry Gall is seen among dozens of Spangles.
Cherry Galls are produced by another Cynipid wasp, this time Cynips quercusfolii, but the life cycle is much the same as before.  the adult wasp will emerge in spring having fallen to the ground in autumn and spent the winter in the leaf litter.  Cherry galls will 'ripen' and turn red as the autumn wears on making the gall even more 'cherry-like'.
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