On the March outing to Len and Frank’s property this enchanting gall was spotted attached to a struggling eucalypt on Mt Rubislaw. After checking with Rod Hobson and the Queensland Museum Enquiry Centre it seems that inside this large four-pronged gall is the female of the scale bug Apiomorpha munita. Almost beyond belief the bug has injected a cocktail of chemicals into the host eucalypt which responds by making just this particular type of gall. The female will never leave and although mature after some months could live in the gall for up to five years.
It came as a surprise to find out that the multiple red structures below were the gall homes of the males. After some months the adult males leave their home and will die after only a few days. However this allows sufficient time for the now mature female to be fertilised. Thousands of minute offspring called crawlers will later emerge from the female gall through a hole in the top. Some crawl to the edge of the foliage and are dispersed by the wind. Maybe it is easier to believe that this bewitching structure was left there by a forgetful leprechaun. Barry
Above photo: Female scale bug gall (upper), male scale bug gall (lower)