Sumac Gall Aphids – Master Tricksters

I was walking around in a cemetery with a friend who¬†spotted these strange balls on staghorn sumac leaves: I figured they were a galls, which are swellings in plants caused by parasitic fungi, bacteria, nematodes, or in most cases, insects and mites. It’s always fun to crack open galls to find out what is living […]

Tar Spot Fungus and The Norway Maple Invasion

In Toronto most maples you see are not the iconic sugar maple (Acer saccharum; as featured on Canadian flag and the source of maple syrup) but rather an introduced species, norway maple (Acer platanoides). Norway maples have become invasive, spreading into natural habitats and displacing native species. And the invasion goes further, sadly, the new […]