Ag Notes: Irregular growths showing up on leaves

June 08, 2004|JERRY LITTLE

Galls are irregular plant growths that are stimulated by the reaction between plant hormones and powerful growth regulating chemicals that can be produced by some insects or mites.

Galls may occur on leaves, bark, flowers, buds, acorns, or roots. Leaf and twig galls are most noticeable. The inhabitant gains its nutrients from the inner gall tissue.

Galls also provide some protection from natural enemies and insecticide sprays. Important details of the life cycles of many gall-makers are not known, so specific recommendations to time control measures most effectively are not available.

Gall makers must attack at a particular time in the year to be successful. Otherwise, they may not be able to stimulate the plant to produce the tissue that forms the gall.


Generally, initiation of leaf galls occurs around "bud break" or as new leaves begin to unfold in the spring.

Oaks are susceptible to many gall makers. The woolly fold gall, caused by a small fly, is a striking example. A fuzzy white pubescence appears on the leaf and is associated with a pouch that contains the maggots larval stage of the fly. Galled leaves are deformed, but overall tree health is not affected adversely.

Information on several common shade tree galls is available in Entfacts 403, 404 and 408.

The mower

A preacher retired and moved to the country to enjoy life and practice his hobby of yard work. Needing a lawn mower, he headed into town to buy one. On the way, he saw a sign advertising a lawn mower for sale. He stopped at the house, and a young lad came out to greet him. The preacher asked about the lawn mower, and the kid said it was behind the house.

The two went to look at the lawn mower. The engine was sputtering along at idle speed. The preacher increased the speed of the engine and mowed a few strips. Satisfied that the mower would do the job, they settled on a price of $25.

Later in the day, the young lad was riding his bicycle when he spied the preacher pulling on the engine starter rope. The kid stopped and watched for a couple of minutes. He asked, "What's wrong?"

The reply came, "I can't get this mower started. Do you know how?"

The kid said, "Yep."

"Well, how do you do it? Tell me!" the preacher yelled.

The kid replied, "You have to cuss it."

The preacher rose up indignantly. "Now you listen here. I am a preacher, and if I ever did cuss, not saying I have, I've forgotten how to do it after all these years."

With a wise look on his face well beyond his years, the kid said, "Preacher, you keep on pulling that rope, and it'll all come back to ya."

Jerry Little is Boyle County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.

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