Plant-Insect Interaction: Hackberry nipplegall maker

Galls on the underside of a hackberry leaf (Celtis occidentalis, Ulmaceae) formed by the hackberry nipplegall maker (Pachypsylla celtidismamma, Psyllidae). Photographed 07/27/2010 in Palmyra Michigan.

Every summer the hackberry tree (Celtis occidentalis, Ulmaceae) in my yard becomes infested with hackberry nipplegall makers (Pachypsylla celtidismamma, Psyllidae).  Adult insects lay their eggs on new hackberry leaves in the spring.  The eggs hatch into nymphs, which start to feed on the leaves.  The tree responds to the threat by growing a gall around the insect.  Here’s a gall torn open to reveal the tiny insect nymph inside:

Gall from a hackberry leaf torn open to reveal the hackberry nipplegall maker nymph that was inside. Photographed 07/27/2010 in Palmyra Michigan.

The nymphs feed inside these galls until early autumn, when they emerge and molt into adults.  After overwintering in bark, the adults start the cycle anew the following spring.

While the galls can be unattractive on hackberries, the insects aren’t generally harmful to the trees.  Additionally, gall maker populations are controlled in nature by several parasitoid wasps.


About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Entomology, Organism Interactions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Plant-Insect Interaction: Hackberry nipplegall maker

  1. Jim Martin says:

    you can’t hate too hard on a critter called a nipplegall maker….


  2. Jeremy Sell says:

    I thought the word “nipple” in the title would have gained more attention.


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