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Family Cynipidae - Gall Wasps

rose galls - Diplolepis polita small round sparkly Arizona oak galls - Andricus Oak galls from Ontario - Philonix nigra - female Fuzzy red oak galls 2 Pink Bow Tie Gall Wasp Cynipid from Lactuca gall - Aulacidea - female Cynipidae on Compass Plant, #2 gall opened - Antistrophus laciniatus - female Wool Sower Gall - Callirhytis seminator
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon ("Parasitica" - Parasitoid Wasps)
Superfamily Cynipoidea
Family Cynipidae (Gall Wasps)
Other Common Names
Gall wasps
Explanation of Names
Cynipidae Latreille 1802
>750 species in ~50 genera in our area(1); >1400 described spp. in 74 genera total(2)
2-8 mm
First segment of hind tarsi about as long as following two or three combined; most species humpbacked; abdomen with two segments visible dorsally, the remainder telescoped beneath.
In cynipid galls "the larvae are always in closed cavities. The larvae are never hairy as in the case of the chalcids. Larvae of guest cynipids are not to be distinguished from those of the maker."(3)
Life Cycle
Succulent spring galls on oak buds, flowers, and leaves produce fully winged, short-lived males and females. The larvae in the more solid, autumnal galls metamorphose in the fall and depending on species the adults, which are all agamic females, may emerge in late fall (as in Disholcaspis spp.) or stay in the galls over the winter. Often two or more winters pass before the adults finally emerge. (3)
According to the most recent classification (Ronquist 1999), all extant cynipids belong to the subfamily Cynipinae, and the fossil genus Hodiernocynips belongs to Hodiernocynipinae.
Three subfamilies: Eucoilinae and Charipinae are parasitic and Cynipinae (about 640 species) are gall makers or gall inquilines, according to Borror and DeLong (4). The first two are no longer placed in Cynipidae.
Two subfamilies: Synerginae and Cynipinae, according to Arnett (1). See comment here describing how they are distinguished.
Cynipinae is by far the larger subfamily; some of its species can be abundant. Small to minute, usually black, with characteristic shape: the abdomen is oval and somewhat compressed and shiny, the second tergum covers a good part of the abdomen. Each species makes a characteristic gall on a specific part of the plant. Many make galls on oaks. Most have a complex life cycle with a parthenogenetic generation and a sexual one. Each generation makes galls of a different appearance and on different parts of the plant.(4)
"The amateur should be warned that a single gall casually collected is seldom worth the trouble of trying to rear. It may be the normal reaction of the host to the stimulus of a cynipid or it may be quite abnormal if it has been modified in size and structure by the attack of guests or parasites in its early stages. Only if found in numbers and on several trees is it probably the characteristic work of a cynipid and worth collecting and rearing."(3)
Print References
Dailey, D.C. & C.M. Sprenger (1983). Gall-inducing Cynipid Wasps from Quercus dunnii Kellogg (Hymenoptera). Pan-Pacific Entomologist 59:42-49 (Full Text)
Internet References
"Call of the Galls" (Russo 2009)
Works Cited
1.American Insects: A Handbook of the Insects of America North of Mexico
Ross H. Arnett. 2000. CRC Press.
2.Order Hymenoptera. In: Zhang Z-Q (ed) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classif. and survey of taxonomic richness
Aguiar AP, Deans AR, Engel MS, Forshage M, Huber JT, Jennings JT, Johnson NF, Lelej AS, Longino JT, Lohrmann V, Mikó I, Ohl M. 2013. Zootaxa 3703: 51–62.
3.Cynipid Galls of the Eastern United States
Lewis H. Weld. 1959. Privately printed in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
4.Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects
Norman F. Johnson, Charles A. Triplehorn. 2004. Brooks Cole.
5.Cynipid Galls of the Pacific Slope
Lewis H. Weld. 1957. Privately printed in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
6.Cynipid Galls of the Southwest
Lewis H. Weld. 1960. Privately printed in Ann Arbor, Michigan.