It seems that many of the trees in and around the upper Midwest have lost their leaves. It's generally this time of year that people who wander out in the woods will find some really incredible sights. One thing that Minnesotans might NOT be seeing this year are these 'bumps' that look like balloons on plant stems. So what are these bumps, why do they matter, and why are we possibly not seeing them right now? Here are some answers.

I saw a post from a garden stand business that I follow on Facebook, and they were posting about the scarcity of seeing these plant stem bumps, also known as galls. The gall is actually insect eggs that are hatching and feeding off the plant until springtime.

"The galls are created by the plant when an adult goldenrod gall fly lays an egg on the stem and the tiny gall fly larva burrows into the stem. The galls grow larger as the plants grow and the larvae overwinter and hatch into adults who repeat the cycle in spring."

You might be asking yourself, why should I care about some bugs, well they are a source of food for predators like birds and spiders, and as the post from Tikalsky Gardens says that some ice fishermen use the larvae inside the gall for bait.

Finally what might be causing them to not be appearing? Chances are it's the drought we are facing right now across the area. The drought has caused there to be less goldenrod, where the gall fly lays the majority of its eggs, which would be one reason we would be seeing fewer galls.

While the goldenrod plant is a tougher plant that can handle drought, persistent drought can cause the plant to not be as tough, another reason we might be seeing less goldenrod and galls.

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