March 19, 2011 9:01 pm
Bugman–we were hiking in west/central Arkansas in the Ouachita mountains and found this round orange ball with red spots on a leaf on the ground. It was about 3/4 of an inch in diameter. It was mid-March in a mixed deciduous/pine forest. What is it?
This is theoretically not an insect egg, but it was produced because of the laying of an insect egg. This is a Gall. Galls are growths produced on plants, usually because of an insect or mite, though fungus and other causes may produce gall-like structures. This is probably the result of a Gall Wasp in the family Cynipidae. The Gall Wasp lays an egg, and when the egg hatches, the larva releases an enzyme that causes the Gall to grow. The Gall Wasp Larva then feeds on the tissue in the Gall. Galls do not harm the plants. Here is a similar photo on BugGuide, and one on Wikimedia.