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Dallas Morning News - December 14, 2017

Pest or Interesting Bit of Nature?

There are many different kinds of galls. They are primarily caused by wasps, flies, aphids and other small insects and are usually more cosmetic than damaging. On the other hand, when trees are heavily infested with galls, there’s a problem – but there’s a solution.

Galls before applying Sick Tree Treatment.

Tiny insects such as female gall wasps or cynipid wasps pierce twigs or leaves with egg laying egg laying devices and deposit eggs inside the plant tissue. Fluids deposited with the egg and produced by the larva cause the plant cell multiplication process to begin. This distorted growth results in various forms. Some galls are hard and light and airy, some are fuzzy, some look like aliens, some look like bad acne and some look like bloodshot eyeballs. The larvae develop inside the gall, feeding on material produced in the cavity lining. At maturity, the larvae transform into a pupa, and later become adults that chew out of the gall. By causing trees to form galls, the gall wasp has provided food and shelter for its offspring. Although unsightly, most galls are not considered very damaging.

There is a curiosity about this. Why do the small insects choose this tree over that tree? Some trees get heavy infestations and some trees of the same species have no galls to be found. Could it be that healthy trees have a natural resistance to the insects that create the galls? I think so. I’m gathering more and more proof that when trees are in stress, the distribution and concentration of sugars in the trees has a definite influence on whether diseases, insects, woodpeckers or rodents attack and do damage. Yes, and galls.

Galls after applying the Sick Tree Treatment. 

In the past I recommended spraying every few weeks with the Garrett Juice mixture and an organic pest control such as BioSafe, but that might not be necessary. I discovered something very interesting on one of my own trees. A Lacey oak in our experimental gardens looked relatively healthy and was growing at a decent rate each year, but starting in 2015 it began to have some fuzzy oak galls that deformed

the leaves. I shrugged it off at first as I often suggest to others. But, the next year the population of galls was heavier and got my attention. Long story short, I applied the Sick Tree Treatment. The first step was to dramatically expose the root flare and the girdling roots that were exposed. The second photo shown here was taken summer of 2017. Galls are completely gone.

The secret is soil health, stress free trees and use of the Basic Organic Program.

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