Life in a gall

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Rob Richardson

RG and FJ Richardson, Meredith, Victoria 3333 Australia.

Cite this article as:

Richardson, R.G. (2012). Life in a gall [Book Review]. Plant Protection Quarterly 27(3), 116.

Life in a gall

by Rosalind Blanche

Published by CSIRO Publishing 2012, small paperback, colour, 80 pages, price $29.95. ISBN 9780643106437

Most of us know galls as those strange lumps and bumps on the stems, leaves and buds of plants. Most of us probably know they are produced by insects, but, if you are like me, that is probably all you know. Life in a gall is an easy to read book that will satisfy the curiosity when you want to know more than that they are just caused by insects.

This book explores how some insects induce plants to form galls and what the significance of the gall is to the insect, in protecting it and supplying a food source. It also investigates the methods employed by different insect groups to find a site to induce a gall, how the insect adapts to living part of its life in the gall and how it obtains food, mates and leaves the gall.

The gall is not the perfect defense mechanism for the insects living in them. They are attacked by a variety of predators including insects, micro-organisms, birds and humans where the galls are causing problems in gardens, horticulture, agriculture, forestry and conservation. While we generally see galls as undesirable, they do have benefits. Several insects that cause galls are playing an important role in weed management, for example Australian acacias in South Africa are subject to biological control using gall-inducing wasps from Australia.

Life in a gall is aimed at the interested reader – if you want to know more about galls then it is the perfect place to start. The language is simple and scientific terms have been kept to a minimum, new concepts are introduced in simple terms with the scientific term in brackets. An extensive glossary is also supplied.

The author Rosalind Blanche wrote her PhD thesis on the ecology of gall-inducing insects on Australian native plants. After graduation from Macquarie University in 1996 she worked as a research ecologist with CSIRO in Darwin. She then moved to the Atherton Tablelands to do research for CSIRO Entomology and since then has worked for Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, a Conservation International/CSIRO project and written reports for the Savanna Co-operative Research Centre.


First published online: September 15, 2012