Little mountain range galls on eucalypt leaves

Here’s another recently arrived Australian invertebrate spreading through New Zealand.

written Dec 9, 2014 • by Jon Sullivan • Category: Wild Changes

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Here are some miniature pink mountain ranges on eucalyptus tree leaves that I found in Christchurch, New Zealand, this week, by the Blenheim Road roundabout, on my bike ride to work. After some work on the internet looking through NZ’s many eucalyptus herbivores, I figured out that they’re caused by an Australian gall wasp called Nambouria xanthops. It has been suggested on iNaturalist NZ that the host tree here is Eucalyptus viminalis.

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Nambouria xanthops galls on a eucalypt leaf, December 2014 (view observation on iNaturalist NZ).

Nambouria xanthops was first found in New Zealand in October 1999 in Auckland. It was unknown to science at the time and was formally described from the New Zealand material in 2002 by NZ wasp expert Jo Berry and NZ forest entomologist Toni Withers. According to Forest Research’s Forest Health News (no. 129, May 2003), it had been recorded from about 10 species of Eucalyptus in NZ.

iNaturalist NZ users have documented Nambouria xanthops in Auckland, Wellington, and now Christchurch. I cannot easily tell whether this is the first record from Christchurch since most NZ insect collections are still not available online.

I have sampled one leaf and have it in a vial on my office desk in the hope of rearing some adult wasps from the galls.