September 11, 2009

A Choked Chokecherry

When riding along Mill Hollow in Indian Canyon, we saw a bush that had chokecherry leaves, but the berries were not round, as in the photo above. 
Instead, the berries were oblong:
chokecherry strange
At first, we though this was a different plant.  Then Steve cut open one of the berries and found:
chokecherry gall midge
these weird little worms.  Upon further research at home, we found that these are chokecherry gall midge larvae.  (Contarinia virginianae)
The chokecherry fruit gall midge is a tiny fly that causes direct damage to the fruit. Adults emerge from overwintering pupae in late May and lay their eggs in the flowers. Tiny yellowish-orange maggots feed on the developing fruit. As feeding continues, the developing fruit becomes enlarged (gall) and the developing seed aborts. Larval feeding continues until late July, when the larvae drops out of the gall to the ground to pupate. The hollow, damaged fruit will often drop off before the berries are ripe.
Feeding by the larvae causes a gall to form. The gall is the enlarged fruit, which is pear-shaped and hollow. There may be a combination of normal berries and galls on the same fruit cluster. Initially the gall is green in colour but changes to red as it develops. --


  1. Hi Janie.... I've never seen a chokecherry--and I've never seen a gall midge (worm).... That is interesting. I learn something new by blogging every single day.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. How very interesting. I don't believe I've seen a chokecherry before. Thanks for the education.

  3. Another great natural history lesson.

  4. That is very interesting...and also yucky. worms...ewww. ;)

  5. Mother nature with an endless diversity!

  6. We have a chokecherry tree in our Indiana back yard. Guess I'll check it tomorrow to see if any of the cherries are infested. Bleah. That's what my mischievous squirrel was eating on my 09/02/09 post.

  7. interesting to know, so one can avoid any snacking on little maggots.

  8. Kind of gross little buggers, but I guess everything has to eat. And now I know what not to eat.

  9. Oh, dear. I can see the end of chokecherry wine days ahead. Fascinating find you made.

  10. never seen these before! thanks for sharing

  11. Patches of chokecherries may be infested while other patches or areas may have none. Infested berries are easy to recognize. Thanks for the research. We harvest a lot of these berries and already have 17 quarts of chokecherry juice.
    Thanks again.

  12. How interesting that worms can change the shape of the fruit like that:)

  13. We have chokecherry trees in Montana. They are very bitter but make good jellies and syrups. My Mother used to make several quarts of the syrup when we were kids. It was the only syrup I used on my pancakes and waffles. Very very good!



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