May 29, 2020

Clustered midrib gall on Post Oak

I have been wondering (for four long years) about the ID of a particular gall which has come to be known as the Clustered Midrib Gall. After some amazing collaboration between @megachile, @mileszhang, and myself we have finally solved the mystery!

There is quite a history to this gall, so this post is to record the abbreviated details for future reference.

The gall was first described by itself (without the larva or adult fly) from a Post Oak in 1862 by Osten Sacken. (Osten Sacken, 1862)

In 1887 Ashmead described a new wingless fly and erroneously thought the gall is the one Osten Sacken had described. He published that as Acraspis vaccinii (which later becomes Zopheroteras vaccinii), using Osten Sacken's description of the gall. (Ashmead, 1887)

In 1913 Beutenmuller described a new winged fly without the gall as Andricus lustrans. (Beutenmuller, 1913)

In 1918 Beutenmuller described a new winged fly and gall, which he named Andricus impositus, and even commented that he first thought it was Z. vaccinii but the fly did not match even though the gall did. (Beutenmueller, 1918)

In 1927, Weld figured out that the winged A. impositus fly is the same as the winged A. lustrans fly and described Callirhytis lustrans, the winged fly and the correct gall. In addition, he commented on 1) Ashmead's error, 2) the A. lustrans and A. impositus flies being the same species, as well as 3) Kinsey's Andricus dimorphus var. verifactor fly. (Weld, 1927)

Today, the current accepted name is Callirhytis vaccinii (Ashmead). (Krombein, 1979)

Zopheroterus vaccinii is the accepted name for the unrelated wingless fly and the correct gall it came from.

Weld points out that he found the same looking gall on Quercus breviloba in Austin and Boerne, Tex. Kinsey also reports the galls on Q. breviloba in Leander and Austin, Tex.

Weld's 1927 description of the Callirhytis lustrans gall is the most recent and accurate, and is transcribed here:

Callirhytis lustrans (BEUTENMUELLER)

Andricus lustrans BEUTENMUELLER, Trans. Amer. Ent. Soc. vol. 39, 1913. p. 244.
Andricus impositus BEUTENMUELLER, Ent. News, vol. 29, 1918, p. 329.
Andricus dimorphus verifactor KINSEY, Indiana Univ. Studies 53, 1922, p. 15.
Acraspis vaccinii (gall only), ASHMEAD, Trans. Amer. Ent. Soc., vol. 14, 1887, p. 136.

Lustrans was described from two adults captured at Austin, Texas, gall and host unknown. One of these specimens was given in 1921 to the writer, who recognized its close relation to impositus. Lustrans is described as without a median groove, but this specimen in certain positions shows a faint median line, while the groove in some of the many available parataypes of impositus is fully as faintly defined. The writer is unable to separate paratypes of verifactor from lustrans. The gall of this species was first described by Osten Sacken in 1862, but Ashmead was evidently in error in thinking he had reared it in 1887, associating the wingless fly he reared with the wrong gall. These galls occur as midrib clusters on under side of leaves of Quercus stellata in the fall, dropping when mature. When fresh the individual galls are shaped like huckleberry flowers, somewhat cylindrical with the end distinctly truncate and depressed, but during the winter on the ground they become globular except for a short pedicel, and the depressed end becomes a flattened circular scar at apex with a slightly raised rim, and the greenish or reddish color changes to brown.

Beutenmueller sent the writer galls from New York City which contained pupae on November 1 and adults on November 25 (age of galls unknown). The writer collected galls at Poplar Bluff and Ironton, Mo.; Wharton, Trinity, Arlington, and Boerne, Tex.; Hugo, Okla. At Hugo they were just starting to develop on July 25. Galls collected in October, 1917, at Trinity, Tex., gave two adults May 18, 1919. In galls collected at Ironton in fall of 1917 pupae were found in October, 1918, and in March, 1919, flies emerging before May 12, 1919. S. A. Rohwer collected galls at Ironton in October, 1918, and reared adults April 9-16, 1919, and a few more were found dead in cage May 12, 1920 (Hopkins U. S. No. 10777j).

A precisely similar gall on the shin oak, Q. breviloba, was seen at Austin and Boerne, Tex., and may prove to be that of this species.

Illustration (Beutenmuller, 1909)


Ashmead, William H., "On the Cynipidous Galls of Florida, with Descriptions of New Species and Synopses of the Described Species of North America" (1887)

Beutenmuller, William, "The Species of Biorhiza, Philonix and Allied Genera, and Their Galls" (1909)

Beutenmuller, William, "Descriptions of New Cynipidae" (1913)

Beutenmuller, William, "Notes on Cynipidae, with Descriptions of a New Species (Hym.)" (1918)

Kinsey, Alfred C., "Studies of Some New and Described Cynipidae (Hymenoptera)" (1922)

Krombein, Karl V., "Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico" (1979)

Osten Sacken, Baron R., "Additions and Corrections to the paper entitled: 'On the Cynipidae of the North American Oaks and their Galls'” (1862)

Weld, Lewis H., "Field Notes on Gall-inhabiting Cynipid Wasps with Descriptions of New Species" (1927)

Posted on May 29, 2020 05:57 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 1 comments | Leave a comment

May 07, 2020

1,000+ species documented in my suburban yard

Woohoo! I finally reached 1,000 species (wild, no cultivars counted) in my .25 acre suburban yard. Well, a lot of that is house, but I count those inside creatures, too! It took me 3.5 years, which I don't think is much at all! Mothing... that's definitely the biggest boost.

Posted on May 07, 2020 02:48 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 5 comments | Leave a comment

May 04, 2020

CNC Superheroes!

I'm so proud of everyone that contributed to the CNC this year, even if it was only 10 observations! I learn so much every year: quantity vs. quality tricks, where to go to see a wider variety of organisms, photography techniques, ways to differentiate similar species, talking with experts (academic and hobbyist,) and places I want to visit that have some things I've never seen before. More than that, though, I find new-to-me species (50 this year!) and join in being a part of something really big for nature.

After the physical 4 day challenge is over, we turn to the mental 6-day challenge of trying to ID things. It's tough to put yourself out there and risk being wrong, and even more so when you are making IDs for other people's observations.

This year I didn't ID as much as I wanted to, but I have to give a HUGE SHOUT OUT to a couple of folks that really outdid themselves!
@connlindajo made 9,822 IDs for observations all over Texas. That's incredible!
@kalamurphyking made 8,483 IDs for the DFW area. WOW!
@kathrynwells333 made 7, 260 IDs for the DFW area. Awesome job!
You guys deserve to be recognized just as much as those who took photos.
There were 845 people that contributed IDs in the DFW area! There are many more people that IDs thousands of observations, and you can see them all here:

I also want to thank those folks that helped new users by putting in broad IDs (plant, insect, etc) and commented on how they can improve their chances of getting an ID. I hope a bunch of folks will stick around after the CNC and see how great this community is!

I hope your CNC experience was great, especially in light of the COVID19 restrictions, and I look forward to having extra BioBlitzes the rest of the year to make up for it! Right?!

iNaturally yours,
Kimberlie 😄

Posted on May 04, 2020 16:42 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 6 comments | Leave a comment

April 26, 2020

How YOU can help new users stick around after the CNC

We've got a ton of new users joining because of the CNC, and it would be great if they kept it up after the event. Here's how you can help! If everyone could just take a few minutes each time you finish your uploads, that would be SO GREAT!

Welcoming New Users
If you see someone with less than 50 observations, leave them a welcome note! Just say HI or tell them to tag you (OR ME!!) if they need help by including @kimberlietx in their observation comments. (More examples here:

Broadly Identifying Blank Observations
We will have several days after to ID things, but new users are looking for IDs right away. You don't have to ID to species... just narrowing it down to "plant" or "insect" is very helpful to those of who focus on specific taxa.

Pretend my name is Carrie Seltzer and I wrote more about it here last year:
Tips and tricks for welcoming & helping new users
Here's a QUICK LINK you can click on to see observations in DFW with no ID at all from users that created their iNat account in the last week.

Helping New Users to Submit Observations Correctly
There is a page of great "Frequently Used Responses" here if you come across photos of Fido or Fluffy, no photo at all, missing locations, etc.


If this post is rambling and unintelligible, I blame it on the CNC! Feel free to add suggestions/corrections below!

Posted on April 26, 2020 00:51 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 1 comments | Leave a comment

March 27, 2020

Lace balloons in the grass?

Sometimes when you are under Disaster Emergency Self-imposed I-refuse-to-get-coronavirus Quarantine, you get bored. I was wandering around the yard one day and got down on my knees to look at crane fly larvae. While I was there, I noticed these crazy lace balloons attached to the stems of Bur Clover (Medicago polymorpha).

It only took a second to spot the larvae, too.

I was fascinated watching the little larvae wiggle around in their lace balloons, but I couldn't tell if they were related to the egg stage or the cocoon stage. So I sent my field assistant (read: nephew) to bring my phone camera and collection supplies. I was able to open one of the lace balloons to see that it was a cocoon with a pupa inside.

But what ARE THEY? I suspected they were some kind of beetle (probably weevil based on the "snout" of the pupa,) but there were several species in the grass that day, so I collected a few cocoons to see what emerged.

And here it is... the Alfalfa Weevil.

I didn't know at the time to look for eggs in the stems or I would have had the full life cycle. Nevertheless, it was hands-on nature learning at it's finest.


You can read more about the Alfalfa Weevil life cycle here:

Posted on March 27, 2020 12:15 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 4 observations | 7 comments | Leave a comment

March 17, 2020

How to photograph terrestrial mushrooms to get an ID

Denis Benjamin, Mycologist at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, recently shared a document created by Billy Stone (also of BRIT) that outlines the photos needed to get a proper ID of terrestrial (ground growing) mushrooms. I thought it was very helpful information and worth sharing on iNaturalist!

Posted on March 17, 2020 18:52 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 5 comments | Leave a comment

February 27, 2020

Helpful Identification Guides

@lisa281 did something I've been longing to do, but never taken the time. She's put together a fantastic list of journal posts that iNat users have written about identifying certain topics. The list is still growing, so feel free to let Lisa know if you have posts you refer to!

Posted on February 27, 2020 12:38 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 3 comments | Leave a comment

February 04, 2020

The Anemones Are Coming!

It’s time again for the Anemones to start blooming! We are seeing lots of observations of the leaves, so keep your eyes open for those beautiful blooms to come any time now!

Thank you to everyone who helped us last year to document the less common Carolina Anemone (A. caroliniana). We collectively documented 46 observations by 15 observers at ~19 locations! That’s quite an increase from the previous year of 4 total observations! Are you ready to make 2020 an even better year?

We would love for everyone to join us in looking for the Carolina Anemone! All you need to do is learn what to look for and post your observations to iNaturalist. That’s it! Your data is automatically included.

On the DFW Carolina Anemones project page there are links to all the important information, such as how to tell them apart from Tenpetal Anemones, where to look for them, and locations still needing to be checked. You can find all of that here:

Don’t think you’ll remember all that while you are skipping through the wildflowers? It’s ok! Take photos of the flower, entire stem, and leaves. Post your observation ID as “Anemone” and we’ll tell you which species it is.

If you are interested in coming to a field information session once the Carolina Anemone is in bloom, leave a comment below or email Kimberlie at to receive announcements on the date and location. (To be determined once Mother Nature gives us the go-ahead.)

Thank you for helping us to learn more about this lesser known Windflower! Your efforts are invaluable and greatly appreciated!

@kimberlietx and @pfau_tarleton

Posted on February 04, 2020 01:13 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 1 comments | Leave a comment

February 02, 2020

Illustrated glossary of leaves

I love these illustrations of the parts of leaves, but on the original website (Flora of Newfoundland and Labrador) they appear as slides, making it a bit more difficult to access. I'm linking to them here for my convenience and future reference.

Posted on February 02, 2020 00:24 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 2 comments | Leave a comment

February 01, 2020

Rubus spp (of Texas) comparison of features

This post is Part 3 of my series on Rubus species in Texas.

Part 1 - Taxonomy of Dewberries, Blackberries, and Brambles in Texas (Rubus spp)
Part 2 - Key to Rubus spp of Texas (Dewberries, blackberries, and brambles)

In Part 2 I presented a guide to Quick ID the three most common Rubus species in Texas. This post takes species identification to the next level. It is an extract and comparison of the detailed characteristics of each species from the Flora of North America website. There is much value in looking closer at the leaflet shape and size, for example, in helping to determine species for observations that are inconclusive from the Quick ID guide. The botany terminology is heavy, so if you have a dictionary handy you will want to get it.

 R. trivialis R. pensilvanicus R. flagellaris
HABIT Shrubs to 3(–7) dm, moderately to densely armed Shrubs 10–30 dm, armed Shrubs to 3 dm, armed
STEMS biennial biennial biennial
initially low-arching, then falling and creeping (or climbing higher through other vegetation) erect to arching usually creeping, sometimes low-arching and then creeping , flowering branches usually erect
glabrous or moderately hairy glabrous or sparsely to densely hairy glabrous or densely hairy
sparsely to densely short- to long-stipitate-glandular eglandular or sparsely to moderately, rarely densely, sessile- to short-stipitate-glandular eglandular or sparsely sessile- to short-stipitate-glandular
not pruinose not pruinose not pruinose
PRICKLES moderate to dense prickles sparse to dense prickles sparse to dense
recurved erect or slightly retrorse hooked
sometimes distally slender, 1–4 mm, broad-based stout, 4–10 mm, broad-based sometimes distally slender, 1–4 mm, broad-based
BRISTLES absent or sparse to dense absent
erect to retrorse
red to purple, rarely green
slender, weak
LEAVES persistent or semipersistent deciduous deciduous, some sometimes semipersistent
ternate to palmately compound palmately compound ternate or palmately compound
lustrous not lustrous not lustrous
Stipules stipules filiform, linear, or lanceolate; 2–12(–15) mm filiform to narrowly lanceolate;  (3–)5–15(–20) mm stipules filiform or linear to lanceolate, 3–20 mm
Leaflets leaflets 3–5 leaflets (3–)5(–7) leaflets 3–5
Terminal shape terminal narrowly elliptic or ovate to obovate terminal ovate to lanceolate terminal ovate or elliptic to suborbiculate
Size 5–15 × 3–13 cm 3–11 × 2–7.5 cm
Base base rounded to cuneate base rounded to shallowly cordate base broadly cuneate or rounded to shallowly cordate
Lobes unlobed unlobed usually unlobed, rarely shallowly lobed
Margins margins moderately to coarsely serrate to doubly serrate margins finely to coarsely singly or doubly serrate margins moderately to coarsely serrate to doubly serrate or serrate-dentate
Apex apex acute to acuminate apex acuminate to long-attenuate apex acute or acuminate to short-attenuate
Abaxial surface abaxial surfaces with hooked prickles on midvein abaxial surfaces green, usually with retrorse prickles on midvein abaxial surfaces with prickles on midvein or unarmed
glabrous or sparsely to moderately hairy moderately hairy sparsely to moderately hairy
eglandular or sparsely short-stipitate-glandular along central vein eglandular or sparsely to moderately sessile- to short-stipitate-glandular along veins eglandular or sessile- or short-stipitate-glandular along largest veins.
INFLORESCENCES terminal, on short shoots usually appearing axillary terminal, on short shoots usually appearing axillary terminal, on short shoots usually appearing axillary
1(–3)-flowered (2–)5–12(–16)-flowered 1–3(–8)-flowered
cymiform, racemiform, or thyrsiform racemiform
Flowering Jan–Jun Flowering May–Jul Flowering Mar–Jun
PEDICELS prickles and, often, bristles moderate to dense, recurved unarmed or prickles sparse, erect unarmed or prickles sparse to moderate, retrorse to hooked
moderately to densely hairy glabrous or sparsely to densely hairy moderately to densely hairy
sparsely to moderately sessile- to short-stipitate-glandular eglandular or sparsely to moderately sessile- to short-stipitate-glandular usually sparsely to densely sessile- or short-stipitate-glandular, rarely eglandular
FLOWERS bisexual bisexual bisexual
petals white to pink petals white petals white
elliptic to obovate, 10–16(–25) mm usually obovate to elliptic, rarely suborbiculate, 8–40 mm elliptic, obovate, or oblanceolate, 8–20 mm
filaments filiform filaments filiform filaments filiform
ovaries glabrous ovaries glabrous ovaries glabrous
FRUITS black black black, sometimes dark red
globose to ovoid, 1–1.5(–2) cm globose to cylindric, 1–2 cm globose to cylindric, 1–2 cm
drupelets 10–50 drupelets 10–100 drupelets 10–40
strongly coherent, separating with torus attached strongly coherent, separating with torus attached strongly coherent, separating with torus attached
Rubus trivialis is distinguished from other species of Rubus by its frequently glandular-bristly and generally creeping stems, abundant recurved prickles, and typically persistent or semipersistent, lustrous primocane leaves with relatively narrow leaflets. Although emerging primocanes typically reach to 30 cm above the ground, vigorous plants can have new primocanes standing erect to 70 cm that later fall to the ground or onto adjacent vegetation as they continue to enlarge.

Rubus flagellaris is extremely polymorphic, ranging from plants with low-arching (and later creeping) stems and relatively few prickles to low, creeping plants with abundant prickles. Individual plants in some years will produce abundant, arching, poorly armed stems, and in others creeping, well-armed stems. Prickle shape also varies in these plants both within a year and among different years. Local variants seem to readily intergrade with other variants.

Apparent consistent features of Rubus flagellaris are terete primocanes to 7 mm diam. near the base and presence of rigid, hooked primocane prickles to 4 mm. Primocanes that tip-root and are low and long-running are nearly consistent features of R. flagellaris. Flower number per inflorescence throughout most of the geographic range of R. flagellaris is one to three or, rarely, five.

Posted on February 01, 2020 23:18 by kimberlietx kimberlietx | 7 comments | Leave a comment