Leaf Gall Mite on Skunkbush

Aculops (?)

leaf galls on Rhus trilobata due to an Eriophyidae mite, photo © by Mike Plagens

Observed on foliage of Skunkbush in Granite Mountain Wilderness, Yavapai Co., Arizona. 15 Sept. 2011. Open ponderosa woodland habitat.

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Hundreds of kinds of galls, each a different shape, size, location and color, can be found on plants growing within the sycamore woodlands in canyons of Arizona. Each gall type and plant species combination are caused by a different organism interacting with the host plant. The mites are very small and can be seen only in fresh galls that are carefully opened and examined with high magnification - 15x minimum. The colony within the gall was initiated by a mated female mite while the leaf was just emerging from the bud. Several generations and possibly many dozens of mites are now contained within each gall.

Scanning the literature I found that most Eriophyidae which use Rhus spp. have been identified as Aculops. However, it seems that most Aculops cause blister-shaped galls as opposed to the finger-shaped galls shown here. It may require microscopic examination to determine the status.

Eriophyidae -- Gall Mite Family

More Information:

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Arizona Naturalist
Sycamore Canyons
Invertebrates in Arizona's Sycamore Canyons


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 27 March 2016