French name: La Galle de l’églantier ou Bédégar, La Barbe de St Pierre
Even with our current warm, blue-skied days, Autumn is creeping its way across France. It is dancing across the tips of leaves tingeing them yellow, it is making our mornings dark, and in the light of day leaving eerie mists lying in the bottom of valleys. Locals have begun the annual ritual of filling trailers with logs for their wood burners, and the weekends resonate with the sound of gunshots; alas the Chasse is underway.
As we enter October wildflowers are fading away and being replaced by the weird and wonderful world of mushrooms, and other curiosities which remain hidden when trees and shrubs are fully robed.
It was whilst out walking this last weekend that I spotted what I initially thought to be some sort of red moss.
This ‘red moss’ is in fact a Rose Bedegaur Gall or Robin’s Pincushion. The gall is caused by the larvae of a tiny gall wasp, Diplolepis rosae. It can be found on the stems of wild roses during late summer, and gradually turns red as it matures throughout autumn.
A Gall wasp, Diplolepis rosae, lays its eggs on a leaf bud on the stem of a wild rose, when the larvae hatch and begin eating into the stem, some sort of strange chemical reaction takes place which causes the gall to form. The gall becomes home to the larvae, each having their own chamber within where they feed throughout autumn and winter and will eventually emerge in spring as a wasp.
The gall wasp, Diplolepis rosae, itself is only about 4mm long with a black body and amber/chestnut abdomen and legs. The majority of the wasps are female, with male gall wasps being very rare.
The gall has the common name of Robin’s Pincushion after Robin Goodfellow, a mischievous sprite in English folklore, otherwise known as Will’O The Wisp or Puck.
Whilst out walking from now until spring, keep an eye out for a Dog-Rose and you may well see a Robin’s Pincushion!