Common Names: Witch-hazel cone gall aphid
A minuscule insect, a member of the aphid superfamily, whose presence on a witch-hazel plant is easily recognizable by a red conical gall structure. This gall, rich in nutrients, provides both food and shelter for the female aphid. At the start of spring, females or stem mothers crawl to leaf buds. As the leaf grows, the aphid injects it with a substance, possibly an enzyme or hormone, that causes that the galls to form around her. Once inside her gall the stem mother reproduces asexually and fills the gall with 50 to 70 female offspring. The second generation develops wings and disperses, repeating the process. The third generation includes both males and females. Towards the end of summer, the third generation reproduces sexually and lays eggs on the branches of the witch-hazel. The following spring the cycle begins anew.