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Brittle Bush Gall Midge

Asphondylia sp.

 

Watercolor © by Michael Plagens

This watercolor was done from a live specimen found in the McDowell Mts., Maricopa Co., Feb. 9, 1992. Dark fuzzy swellings are the galls. Also shown in this illustration are Trirhabda geminata, Encelia Leaf Beetle

Cecidomyiidae -- Gall Midge Family


As adults, gall midges are frail-looking gnats with long delicate legs. Gall midge in veronica flower buds © Mike Plagens The specimen shown enlarged here was reared from galls in flower buds of Veronica sp. found near Lake Pleasant.

Several insects are specialized to eat Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) leaves. A tiny gall midge (very small fly, family Cecidomyidae, genus Asphondylia) causes fuzzy enlargements on young leaves or stems where the maggot developes inside. The actual size of the adult fly pictured at lower right is about 3 mm.

This abundance of plant-feeding insects in turn provides food for birds, reptiles and spiders.

gall on Baccharis sarathroides caused by cecidomyiid © Mike Plagens

Each of these galls on Desert Broom (Baccharis sarathroides) supports a dozen or more cecidomyiid fly larvae.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009