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Description and Biology

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Midges in the genus Macrodiplosis cause vein "pocket" galls on the leaves of oaks. These galls appear much like some of the leaf galls of cynipid gall wasps, but when the galls are opened, the maggots inside each have a peculiar "breast bone" structure typical of cecidomyiid larvae. Gall midge maggots drop from the galls to pupate in the soil in a thin, silken cocoon. The following year, a new generation of tiny, mosquito-like gnats emerges from the soil to lay eggs on the developing buds of oaks in early spring. It is not unusual for insect populations to fluctuate drastically from year to year and place to place. Next year the galls may not show up at all. On the other hand, they may be worse!

Adult femail Macrodiplosis gall midge.

Macrodiplosis gall midges are very small and fragile.

Photo by Charley Elseman copyright 2013

Damaged leaf

Macrodiplosis gall midge damage may resemble herbicide injury.

Photo by Greg Harris

Host Plants

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Macrodiplosis maggots cause galls along leaf veins of red oaks although some species can cause pocket galls on the leaf margin. This type of gall midge injury usually does little harm to oak trees unless the galls cause more than 50% of the leaves to drop prematurely early in the growing season. Most of the time, Macrodiplosis gall midges cause more alarm than real harm to the overall health of a tree..

Residential Recommendation

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By the time symptoms are noticed, it is usually too late to apply an insecticide to kill the maggots inside the gall. If chemical control is desired for the next year, consider spraying the tree with some sort of contact/systemic pesticide such as acephate or imidacloprid just as the buds are breaking in early spring.


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For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension Center.

This Factsheet has not been peer reviewed.


Professor Emeritus
Entomology and Plant Pathology

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Publication date: May 16, 2014
Revised: Oct. 1, 2019

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