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Bulldog Canyon, Maricopa Co., Arizona. 11 Oct. 2008. Dried gall caused by a midge, Asphondylia.
The growth at left was caused by the presence of tiny fly midge larvae belonging to the genus Asphondylia. A dozen or so maggots developed at the center while producing minute quantities plant hormone analogs that directed the plant's growth in favor of the parasites. Soon after the flies emerged the growth was aborted and died. It may remain on the plant for many years.
Zygophyllaceae -- Caltrop Family
Among the insects that feed on Creosote Bush is a grasshopper called the Desert Clicker, so called because its incessant clicking often seems to be the only activity during mid-day during the scorching summer heat. It is colored similarly to the twigs and as the observer approaches it scoots to the away side. Hearing them is easy - spotting one is a challenge.
For insects, looking like what you eat is often a matter of survival. That's because there are many sharp-eyed, insectivorous birds and reptiles. As the leaves of creosote bush yellow and die they loose some of their volatile, anti-feeding compounds, and become a food source for detritivores. These beetles, Pachybrachis mellitus, feed as larvae on leaf litter and may feed as adults on the yellow petals of the flowers when they are present.
The green plant bug at right also can hide very effectively on Creosote Bush. When that fails swift legs and a pair of wings ready to be unfolded for use will aid in escape. Insectivorous birds like Verdins and gnatcatchers are also sharp-eyed and very quick guaranteeing that this evolutionary race will keep on going.
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