I was very surprised to come across this bright red ball of what looks like red moss, when I was out walking on Canvey the other day and even more surprised when I found out what it actually was. The following is the description of the Robin’s pin-cushion from my book ‘Book of the British Countryside’.
- A gall on wild rose bushes caused by a gall wasp Diplolepis rosae. In May the female wasp lays eggs in the unopened leaf buds of a rose bush. The presence of the larvae causes the buds to develop not into normal leaves, but as a bright red moss-like structure, an inch or more across. The lavae remain within the gall throughout winter, pupate in spring and hatch in May. There are always many more females than male.
- After the gall wasp causes the pin-cushion to form, other insects exploit it, and another gall wasp Periclistus brandtii often colonises the gall. Larvae of the original wasp may be attacked by a parasite wasp, and this in turn is similarly preyed on by a still smaller species of wasp.
All I can say is it looks lovely but sounds horrible……………