- Hundreds Protest at Plattsburgh State
- Leahy Boosts Aid to Bats
- NY Declares Swine Flu Emergency
- Chairlift Wins Planning Board Approval
- NY-23: Hoffman Refuses To Debate
- Local Teacher Resource Center Funded
- Crown Point Bridge Closed Until Spring
- 23rd Candidates Avoid Debating
- Free Ferry Travel For Bridge Users
- Brandreths Insist Shingle Shanty Brook is Closed
So this my last post for approximately a month. I will miss the North Country and all of the wonderful events I’m sure to hear about when I return in December. I’m headed to Portugal and Normandy. It’s sure to be an exciting trip and I already have a planned meeting with a cool musician, Aurel, in Burgundy. Who knows what other musical adventures I shall have in between. (Note to self: find a guitar once there, ASAP). If I were in town I’d be dancing to CIDERHOUSE on Halloween probably dressed as a question.
Thursday, October 29th:
In Potsdam Roots of Creation are playing at St. Lawrence University. These guys play a combo of mostly reggae and jazz and then there is this tune that must be fairly new called “Bulls On Parade”. It has some blistering guitar riffs and hip hop mixed in. The show starts at 8 pm. If you don’t catch them this time around they’ll be at the Waterhole on December 5th.
In Saranac Lake every Thursday, Community Ceili starts at 7 pm. Just want to remind everyone that this very friendly weekly Celtic music-making experience is open to anyone who wants to play or listen. I learned a lot of tunes this way and I improved my group rhythm playing. It’s held at the North Elba Town House, which is next to Maddens and Guide Boat Realty.
Friday, October 30th:
In South Colton a Halloween Dance, live band included, will be held at the Raquette Valley Fish and Game Club. The band is called The Generation Gap. The dance starts at 8 pm and ends at 11:45 pm. Admission is $3.
In Lake Placid at LPCA – The Rocky Horror Picture Show! It starts at 11:45 pm, a great kick-off to the holiday weekend. So many great people from the area are going to be singing and dancing in conjunction with the showing of the classic film. I’m bringing a teenage friend for her first time.
Saturday, October 31st:
In Queensbury a Coffee House Open Mic is happening at the UU Church. This event is held every last Saturday of the month from 7:30 – 10 pm. The church is located at 21 Weeks Road. Fruit, beverages and dessert are included with a $4 donation. If you live in the southern end of the park go on out and support these folks.
In Saranac Lake, CIDERHOUSE, which features band members from the Nitecrawlers, Electric Blue and Kozmik Truth. Callie K is their excellent lead singer and I see on their website that she plays “extreme washboard”—now that is something I wish I were in town to see. Always a fantastic Halloween party with tons of dancing and costumes. Often special guest musicians show up and the results are exiting. Music is supposed to start at 9 pm.
In Tupper Lake Abbott Hayes will be performing at Old Northern Pub.
The show starts at 10 pm and there is a $5 cover. They have a tight pop rock sound with good lyrics. I’d go see them if I were around.
Sunday, November 1st:
In Potsdam; an Organ Recital by Rebecca Muir MacKellar will be held at 4 pm. It will be held at the Trinity Episcopal Church.
Photo: Roots of Creation
As you might expect, my desk-side book shelves are heavily burdened with Adirondack books. Guides to hiking, climbing, wildlife, forestry; books of photography sit beside fiction and various technical reports—all here within easy reach. Most are history—general histories, political histories, environmental and cultural histories, books on logging, tanning, prohibition, Native Americans, county histories. Recently I received a tidy volume on Adirondack logging history that focuses on Warren County, Phillip J. Harris’s Adirondack, Lumber Capital of the World, which seems to have drawn from them all to good effect.
Harris’s book takes on, with incredible detail, the people and places that made the southeastern Adirondacks unique in the history of the American lumber industry. In 1850, New York produced more lumber—about a billion board feet a year from around a half million trees—than any other state in the nation. Southern Warren County was where much of the lumber was milled and where the Adirondack lumber barons reigned. Their names—James Morgan, William, Norman and Alison Fox, Jones Ordway, James Caldwell, John Thurman, Samuel Prime, Henry Crandall, Zenus VanDusen, Jeremiah and Daniel Finch, Augustus Sherman, George Freeman, William McEchron—are found scattered through the county’s history books, until now.
Harris’s book takes on the large and small, from the first pioneers and their patents, to the lumber camps, jobbers, log drives, log marks, and sawmills. The Delaware and Hudson Railroad is featured in one chapter, the Fort William Henry Hotel in another. In 1865 there were some 4,000 sawmills in New York State, one hundred years later there were fewer the 200, today maybe fewer then 50. One of the bigger contributions Harris makes to the history of the Adirondack lumber industry is in explaining how that came to pass.
The Adirondack Park has not quite returned to Google Maps, but something is taking shape: the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
On October 8 we noticed that the green shape representing “Adirondack State Park” was reduced to a little slice over the Cranberry Lake area. Users let Google know about the error through its “Report a Problem” link. As it incorporates user data, Google is apparently trying to restore the park, but it’s not all there yet.
One commenter suggested that the map distinguish between public and private land, which Google is now doing. It’s good to see state land shaded green, though not all tracts are labeled and Google apparently can’t tell Wilderness from Wild Forest. Also missing is the park boundary and the words “Adirondack Park.” (The boundary in the image above was drawn by Adirondack Almanack for context.)
This is a complicated place. Some private landowners and Adirondackers say the “park” label makes the uninitiated think that nobody lives here, or that all land is open to the public. Niki Kourofsky of Adirondack Life had some funny anecdotes in this fall’s Collector’s Issue (“Your Place or Mine?”) about residents who’ve found people picnicking on their lawns, and visitors who ask rangers, “What time does the park close?” Even though it’s not all government land like Yellowstone, this region is still distinct and has been designated a park for 117 years. Tourism-dependent businesses that promote the Adirondack name and conservationists who have invested more than a century in the ecological integrity of both private and public lands would surely like to see “Adirondack” somewhere over this part of the map.
It was also suggested that Google show conservation easements, as this Adirondack Park Agency map does. Conservation easements are voluntary restrictions on use of private land, usually preventing development to retain natural conditions. But since every easement is different and public access is determined tract by tract, another land designation might just confuse things even more. The state and private conservation organizations have acquired hundreds of thousands of acres of easements in the Adirondacks over the past three decades. While so far the legal agreements seem to be keeping timberlands intact and are working well for landowners, from a public recreation standpoint they are a tangle. The writer Neal Burdick put it well a few years ago when he said that instead of the old metaphor of a “patchwork quilt” of public and private lands, the Adirondack Park might better be called a “bowl of spaghetti.”
Map from a Google screen capture; park boundary drawn by the Almanack
About three years ago, while walking the dog along the Hudson River up here in Newcomb, I came across a beautiful pale green cone-shaped growth at the end of a willow twig. I didn’t know what to make of it at the time, since I knew that willows do not produce cones. Cones are found primarily on conifers (“cone-bearing trees”), but I know of at least one hardwood that has cone-like structures: alders. This was no alder; what could it be? A little research turned up the answer: a pine-cone willow gall.
Like galls found the world over, the pine-cone willow gall is the by-product of an insect-plant interaction. The insect in question is Rhabdophaga strobiloides, the pine-cone willow gall midge, and the plant, obviously, is a willow. Although these midges are found everywhere a willow grows, it is not likely you will ever actually see one, for they are rather small. Or perhaps you might see one and mistake it for a small mosquito, for it is often described as closely resembling one.
As with other galls, the growth’s formation begins when the adult female selects a suitable place in which to lay an egg. In this case, the mother-to-be chooses a terminal leaf bud on a willow. She deposits her egg in the early spring and then nature takes over. When the larva hatches, it exudes a chemical that disrupts the normal growth of leaves and branches, resulting in the creation of a cozy home that to you and me looks like a pinecone. The larva, a little pink grubby thing, takes up residence in a chamber in the center of the gall, where it eats its fill and then waits for winter to pass.
Spring rolls around and the larva pupates. Before long the pupal skin splits open and out crawls the adult gnat (or midge, depending on who you read). Soon it will be off to find a mate and continue the cycle, ad infinitum.
Now, if you are looking for an interesting project to entertain some kids, or even yourself, collect a pinecone willow gall or six around about March. Bring them inside. Using a sharp knife, slice the gall in half, lengthwise, just off-center. If you do it right, you will expose the little pink larva in its cozy chamber. If you do it wrong, you will slice the larva in two (or, more likely, mash the larva). Assuming you’ve left the larva unharmed, place the gall (with its larva) in a jar with a bunch of wet cotton – this will keep the larva from drying out and dying. Put a lid on the jar. Now you can watch as the larva changes to a pupa, and a week or so later into an adult. Pretty cool
Meanwhile, stick your remaining galls into another jar with a wad of damp cotton. You might want to pin them to a piece of cardboard or Styrofoam to keep them upright and off the soggy fibers. Wait and see what emerges. You may get our friend the gnat, or you may get a variety of other insects, from parasitic wasps, to other species of gnats, or even juvenile grasshoppers! I suggest you keep a lid on this jar, too.
Fall and winter are prime times to look for galls, for now the braches and twigs of trees and other plants are exposed to the elements. Some galls are round like gobstoppers, others football shaped. Some have shapes that defy classification. You can find them on goldenrod, willows, cottonwoods, oaks, spruces, and blueberries, to name a few of our native plants that are likely to sport these growths. Take along a sharp pocket knife and slice a few open to see what is living inside. If you find a gall with a hole on the outside, it’s possible a bird beat you to the hidden morsel inside! Gather a few and bring them home; a collection of galls is a wonderful addition to any naturalist’s stash of nature’s endless treasures.
Say you’re a cartoonist, and you own a bar at the intersection of October and November. And once a year at this season two patrons—Halloween and Election Day—walk in and sit down just a couple barstools apart. They never really talk. They just show up, year in and year out. Despite their vast differences in age, temperament, cultural tradition, and costume, you will inevitably come to the conclusion that these misfits were destined to be together. And for the rest of your career you will devote one day a year to drawing a cartoon that somehow marries the two. Some of these cartoons work out better than others.
This may be a promising year if your bar is located in New York’s 23rd congressional district. Few house races in memory can match this year’s special election for Halloween parallels. Consider the following features:
• A Democratic candidate who looked a lot more like a Republican before he put on the traditional donkey costume;
• A Republican candidate who looks like a liberal to moderates, and looks like an Elvis impersonator to conservatives;
• A Conservative candidate with a devilish grin;
Throw in a candidate endorsement from former House Majority Leader Dick Armey in a cowboy hat and candidate bodies which mysteriously disappear the day of scheduled debates, and you have good raw material for a frightful cartoon.
Of course, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always next year.
Three years ago I wrote a diatribe on the trend toward racier Halloween costumes. That post, “Naughty Nurses and the Cult of Halloween Sex,” has been a popular one, mainly because of the penchant for folks to search the internet for “Naughty Nurses.” What they find when they land there, however, is not exactly what they were looking for. Here’s a sample:
According to the Center for Nursing Advocacy the naughty nurse is a cultural phenomenon that sexualizes one of America’s most important professions:
Linking sexual images so closely to the profession of nursing–to even the fantasy idea that working nurses are sexually available to patients–reinforces long-standing stereotypes. Those stereotypes continue to discourage practicing and potential nurses, foster sexual violence in the workplace, and contribute to a general atmosphere of disrespect. Desexualizing the nursing image is a key part of building the strength the profession needs to overcome the current shortage, which threatens lives worldwide, and to meet the challenges of 21st Century health care.
Most people today probably don’t think the average nurse goes to work in lingerie, looking for sex. But the relentless fusing of lingerie with nurses’ work uniforms in popular media images, and the frequent exposure of sexy “nurses'” bodies in these images, still associates the profession with sex in the public mind… Other people may simply see nurses as looking to meet a physician–even an already married one–to take them away from the dead end job of nursing, a horrific stereotype that was actually expressed in late 2004 by Dr. Phil McGraw on his popular television show.
Since it’s Halloween week, I thought it might be worth another look.
Hamilton County Sheriff Douglas A. Parker has announced his retirement, ending a history of Parkers serving as the county’s top cop that stretches back to 1964; just three men have filled the post since 1946. The Long Lake resident, now 67, has spent 40 years with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department. He was appointed to the position of Jailer by his father Arthur E. Parker in 1964 after a short stint about and anti-submarine aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy, he was elected Sheriff on his father’s retirement in 1983.
Parker is being lauded by locals for his approach to rehabilitation of those that find their way into the county’s criminal justice system. “I’d describe Doug as one of those rare individuals that can project authority, that isn’t questioned, and still has the ability to listen and empathize, almost like a social worker,” Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chair William Farber (who has known Parker all these 40 years) told the Schenectady Gazette. “He’s seriously going to be missed. We have a department that’s second to none in how they handle people,” Hamilton County Judge S. Peter Feldstein told the paper. “More young people get turned around because of their interactions with the department, and that’s all because of him.” Some 250 people showed up at the Oak Mountain Ski Center lodge in Speculator for Parker’s retirement party last week.
While serving as Jailer (and living above the jail with his wife), Douglas Parker was put in charge of serial killer Robert F. Garrow when he was held in county lock-up in Lake Pleasant (part of which was built in 1840) for nine months in 1973-1974. He immediately doubled the guard (to two), but still felt uneasy about his charge, calling the experience “a nightmare.” “We didn’t trust Garrow to take a shower. He took a bath in a kiddy pool.” he recently told the Gazette, “He was never out of his cell, but that there were two deputies with him.”
Douglas Parker’s father Arthur E. Parker was elected Long Lake Town Clerk in 1939, and then served 19 years as Long Lake Town Supervisor before being appointed by then New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller when then sheriff Merritt Lamos died in office in 1964.
Hamilton County is the most rural and least populated county in the state, and also, at 1,700-square-miles, one of the largest. The county’s year-round population is about 5,400, which rises to an estimated 55,000 during the summer. The Sheriff’s department includes a staff of six including dispatchers.
The county is considered the most consistently Republican of the entire state. The Republican candidate has lost the county only once over the last 23 Presidential elections (Barry Goldwater). John McCain carried Hamilton County by 27% margin over Barack Obama – the highest margin of victory of McCain in the state.
My neighbor came to the door last week in a fit of outrage over a new DEC regulation that made it clear that leaving your gear in the backcountry was against the rules, except in certain cases. He read about it in the Adirondack Journal, a free Denton Publications paper that appears—whether we like it or not—in our mailboxes each week. “Best pack out your boat” was the title of the “Outdoor Tales” column by Denton Managing Editor John Gereau.
Gereau is upset that he can no longer store his boat on state land. His interpretation of a previous DEC regulation (despite Gereau’s claims, we’re not talking about a “law” but an administrative regulation), which made it clear that storing “camping equipment” on state land was against the rules, conveniently did not apply to him and his gear. His boat, he apparently believes, is not gear.
I contacted DEC Region 5 spokesperson David Winchell, who sent me the wording of Part 190 of the State Land Use regulation, which after a public comment period was revised in May to make clear that no personal property should be left on state land: “No person shall erect, construct, install, maintain, store, discard or abandon any structure or any other property on State lands.” I’ve included the full reg below.
While some may have thought they had a special right the rest of us didn’t have, what Gereau calls “a time-honored tradition to leave boats and canoes on the shore of backwoods ponds,” the regulation has been clarified for them. No, folks, you can’t just leave your stuff wherever you like—even if it is hard to carry it in and out and would be more convenient for you.
And why not? If we all followed Gereau’s rules, what might be called the “convenience interpretation,” what’s to keep me from getting my buddies to help me haul my 21 foot speedboat to some back country waterway that allowed motorized boats and just leave it there? Why couldn’t I just leave my boat at the state access point—state land after all—on any lake I please? That would sure save in docking fees and be a heck of a lot more convenient for me.
There’s another argument I’d like to head off as well. What I like to call the “poor old folks” argument. Here’s how Gereau states it: “I know of many older folks who would not have the ability to get out on the water if the boat had not been there for their use.” Not only does it wrongfully label old timers as invalids, it’s also wrong in fact. There are something in the neighborhood of 2,760 individual lakes and ponds larger than a half acre in the Adirondack Park—about four percent of the total area of the park (almost a quarter million acres)—claiming you can’t get to one of them is ridiculous.
And besides, if it’s that back country (ahem, wilderness) experience that those who make the “poor old folks” excuse are after, then they should also be ardent supporters of the quiet waters movement, the major goal of which is increased opportunities to experience the back country they seek.
Here’s the full text of the revised regulation:
The specific citation is 190.8(w)
w. No person shall erect, construct, install, maintain, store, discard or abandon any structure or any other property on State lands or subsequently use such structure or property on State lands, except if the structure or property is authorized by the department or is:
1. a geocache that is labeled with the owner’s name and address and installed in a manner that does not disturb the natural conditions of the site or injure a tree;
2. a camping structure or equipment that is placed and used legally pursuant to this Part;
3. a legally placed trap or appurtenance that is placed and used during trapping season;
4. a tree stand or hunting blind that does not injure a tree, is properly marked or tagged with the owner’s name and address or valid hunting or fishing license number, and is placed and used during big game season, migratory game bird season, or turkey season; or
5. a wildlife viewing blind or stand that is placed for a duration not to exceed thirty (30) days in one location per calendar year, does not injure a tree, and is properly marked or tagged with the owner’s name and address or valid hunting or fishing license number
Other new provisions of the regulation were added regarding the use of tree stands.
190.8(x) On State lands, no person shall erect, construct, occupy or maintain any structure that is affixed to a tree by nails, screws or other means that injure or damage the tree except as otherwise authorized by the department.
(y) No person shall erect, construct, maintain, occupy or use any tree stand that is used, operated, accessed or reached by methods or means which injure or damage a tree on State lands, and no person shall gain access to any structure in a tree on State lands by means that injure or damage the tree.
All of the changes to the State Land Use regulation may be found on the DEC web site at: www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/2359.html Look under the heading “Recently Adopted Regulation”
The full set of Part 190 regulation may be founds at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/regs/4081.html
As many know, Adirondack Forty-Sixers, or just Forty-Sixers, are people who have climbed the 46 mountains of New York State traditionally considered to be at least 4,000’ in elevation. Membership numbers took nearly a half century to grow from the club’s first recorded member on June 10, 1925 to 1,000 in 1974. Since then, numbers have increased dramatically to 6,385, according to the Forty-Sixer website’s last roster update. Perhaps you too have contemplated exploring the peaks but don’t know where to begin. A good guidebook and some research help, but footprints from the past may also serve as a guide.
Numbers based on the membership roster yielded the four most popular peaks for first ascent:
1. 1,370 or 21.5% people began with Marcy.
2. 1,097 or 17.2% began with Cascade.
3. 593 or 9.2% began with Algonquin.
4. 588 also about 9.2% began with Giant.
Cascade is the most conservative choice for those unsure about their performance over an extended distance. It’s still a challenge with a five-mile round trip covering 2,000’ elevation gain. Porter Mtn. sits alongside and can be added to the day for a minimum of effort. Giant is a rugged and unrelenting round trip of a bit over five miles from Chapel Pond. Elevation gain is over 3,000’ vertical. A side venture to Rocky Peak Ridge can add another high peak to the day, but costs a good bit more in effort. Algonquin jumps to an eight-mile roundtrip over about 2,400’ in ascent. A side spur ascent up Wright or trek over Boundary to Iroquois can make the Algonquin trip either a double or triple header high peak day with multiple choices for descent. Marcy weighs in at about fifteen miles in total with over 3,100’ vertical. Various other destinations can be added if you’re particularly fit and up for the challenge.
All four choices boast open summits with stunning 360 degree views. Marcy is 5,344’ in elevation and overlooks a large percentage of the high peaks being the highest and nearly centered in the grouping. Cascade climbs to 4,098’ with views of Whiteface to the north and most of the peaks from the McIntyre Range over to Big Slide. Algonquin is the second Highest Peak at 5,114’ and is placed a bit to the west. It offers views of numerous mountains including the remote Wallface, Marshall and Iroquois as well as a breathtaking view of Mt. Colden’s incredible slide array down to Avalanche Lake. Giant is aptly named at 4,627’ and delivers views spanning from Lake Champlain and beyond as well as the Dix Range to the east. Each peak is equally rewarding.
So, in deciding how to begin, it’s nice to reflect upon past statistics as well as current sources. Once you’ve wet your feet on Adirondack trails, perhaps you’ll have a taste for more explorations and even more difficult challenges. Stay “tuned” for more on the High Peaks, including one of several ways to accumulate over 10,000 vertical feet in a day hike.
NYS DOT has announced a schedule of public meetings about repairs to the Crown Point Bridge and interim lake crossing options. The first meeting is tomorrow on the Vermont side. There will be a meeting in Moriah Wednesday. Details are available at this Web site the state established to provide updates about the bridge, and in a DOT press release, below: » Continue Reading.
Ten men were killed during John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia in October 1859. All but two were buried in a common grave on the Shenandoah River, across from Harpers Ferry. The body of Jeremiah Anderson, who was bayoneted in the final storming of the engine house, was handed over to a local medical school – his last resting place remains unknown. Watson Brown’s body was given over to Winchester Medical College where it remained until Union troops recovered it during the Civil War and burned the school in reprisal. » Continue Reading.
Skiers can get a preview of improvements at Hickory Ski Center in Warrensburg at an open house November 8. Click on the graphic for details. Also, Whiteface Mountain, in Wilmington, launched a beautiful new Web site last week. Opening day there and at Gore Mountain, at North Creek, is tentatively set for Friday, November 27.
The resurrected Big Tupper, in Tupper Lake, is getting its permits and has posted season rates at its Web site. Opening day is expected December 26. McCauley Mountain, in Old Forge, has also posted season rates. Royal Mountain, in Caroga Lake, has just completed three years of snowmaking and grooming upgrades and will have an open house Sunday, November 1. Mt. Pisgah in Saranac Lake is in the midst of a capital campaign to replace its T-bar.
These DEC Forest Ranger reports are to good to pass up. They are a slice of the Adirondack experience that is almost never reported, and since the last one was so popular, we offer you the October 21st report in its entirety:
Town of Keene, High Peaks Wilderness Area
On Wednesday, September 30, at approximately 7:28 PM, DEC Dispatch received a call reporting an overdue hiker from Mount Marcy, Table Top and Phelps Mtn. James Cipparrone, 29, of Berlin, NJ, was last seen at approximately 4:15 pm Monday, September 28, departing the lean-to at ADK Loj to camp in the interior. Last known contact with Mr. Cipparone was on Tuesday, September 29, in a phone conversation with his father he stated that he was on top of the mountain, but eight miles from his group. Based on the description of the gear the he was carrying, it was decided that he could spend one more night out. » Continue Reading.
I was out exploring a nature trail with a group of young students recently. We gathered acorns and their caps (they make great whistles), milkweed pods, dried rabbit-foot clover flowers (they are so very soft), and collected bunches of flowers to take home. It seems like everything that could be picked or picked up was. Most of their findings I could identify with relative ease, but there was one item that left me wondering.
Freddy (not his real name) brought me a stick with this wrinkly dark brown thing attached to the end. Since there were some gardens nearby, I thought it was an old dried-out cockscomb flower, but the stick was all wrong: it wasn’t a flower stem, it was a twig. I looked closer and said, “Hm. It’s a gall of some kind.” I glanced around, saw a couple cottonwood trees, and, based on the twig, determined they were the source of the sample. Beyond that, I had no idea, for it was a new gall to me. By then several of the kids had found sticks with wrinkly galls on them. I told them I would look it up when I got back to work and let them know what I found out.
It took some searching, but it turns out it is indeed a cottonwood gall of a type made by cottonwood gall mites (Eriophyes parapopuli), aka: poplar bud gall mites. These mites, which are so tiny that it would take five, lined up end to end, to stretch across a 12-pt. period, can be found on other members of the poplar family, too, not just cottonwoods. One of the things that I discovered in my research that I thought was rather interesting is that these mites, unlike the overwhelming majority of mites and spiders, have only four legs. Not four pairs of legs (spiders and mites), but four legs…period. That’s just wrong. Despite their small size, and obvious lack of appendages, these miniscule pests travel very well, thank you. How do they get around? By wind, water, insects, birds and yes, even people. They are extremely fertile, producing up to eight generations in a single year (thank goodness they only live about a month as adults).
There are hundreds of species of these eriophyid mites, each causing its own form of damage on plants, from stem and bud galls, to rusts and blisters. These wee pests are very host specific, not only to the plant they feed upon, but also which part of the plant they choose. Some species prefer leaves, others buds, and others stems or flower petals. But in the end, they all do the same basic kind of damage: they enter the plant’s cells and suck the life out of them. Literally. They suck up the cell’s contents. It’s the plant’s reaction to this attack, however, that creates the gall, or blister, that you and I see.
When galls are formed, the plant is reacting to growth regulators that the mites injected into the plant’s leaf or stem tissues. These growth regulators stimulate the tissue into abnormal growth patterns and rates. The end result is a pocket formed around the mites, in which they happily feed and reproduce.
Cottonwood gall mites take up residence at the base of a bud, preventing the development of normal leaves and stems. Instead, these wrinkly, lumpy, irregular growths appear on one side of the twig, eventually covering the entire base of the bud or shoot. At first the galls are green, for they are fresh and new. As they age, they turn red, then brown, and overtime they end up a grey-black color. If you look closely, you can see the holes through which the adults emerge when they are ready to move on to a new host.
Individually these galls are merely an aesthetic problem, but if enough of them form on your tree, the tree could become rather stressed, making it susceptible to other problems. But in general, they are not considered to be a serious problem. If you keep a close eye on your plants/trees, you can detect deformities before they get out of control. Look for discoloration or swellings at the base of leaves and buds. Just prune off the infected twigs and leaves. These can then be burned or bagged and taken to the dump. Pruning, by the way, is best done in the spring before the tree breaks dormancy. If you have a heavy infestation, you can try applying horticultural oils right after the buds break in the spring. This won’t get rid of existing galls, but it may prevent the spread of the mites and development of future galls. Alternatively, you can consider the galls to be interesting modern art, courtesy of Mother Nature.