Cherry Tree Mystery

He who finds a thought that lets us penetrate even a little deeper into the eternal mystery of nature has been granted great peace.

~Albert Einstein

Melissa and I have been talking about how we can help students and teachers during this time of online learning so I want to try to do some different things with the blog for a little while and see if it helps. Please comment if you find this useful or if you have other suggestions. Our goal is to provide content about nature that can be found in our area in backyards, greenways, parks, and other natural areas, and that can be used as learning experiences by people of all ages. So, here goes…

cherry tree mystery

Mystery item found on wild cherry tree (click photo to enlarge)

While we were out observing the Eastern tent caterpillars the other day, I noticed some tiny blobs on the emerging leaves and adjacent twigs of the wild cherry saplings in our yard. They are strange-looking little things just a few millimeters across (one would fit on top of a pencil eraser). They are dark and curved into a somewhat coil-like shape.

Pistol casebearer, Colephora sp.

Look for clues in the photo.

I had an idea of what they were, but I want you to use your observation skills and see if you can come to some rough conclusions. Are they from a plant, animal, fungus, or are they even a living thing? What clues can you see in the photos that might help you decide? What evidence do you have that supports your ideas?

cherry tree mystery 2

A last look…look for clues in the photos.

If you have cherry trees in your yard, go out and see if you can find any of these little blobs. I’ll also post this on social media so more people can answer. I’ll post more information and an answer tomorrow. If you already know, please wait until tomorrow to comment.

19 thoughts on “Cherry Tree Mystery

  1. I love that you two are doing this. I hope the students, teachers, and parents find it useful and fun also. I see webbing, that tells me this mystery blob might be an animal that spins webs…

  2. Thanks Mike. Me and my nyc family come out of quarantine on Sun. I will then start helping with my grandsons. I am excited to share your daily nature postings with them. They are city kids and only five and eight years old. So of course we will be exploring thinking and creative responses and not necessarily correct responses. Ha ha. Thanks again.

  3. Hi Mike and Melissa!
    I love this idea! And thanks for all your posts that you’ve had all along. I love every single one. Maybe people can send you back yourd photos of things they don’t understand or are not able to identify? I know that the photos might not be good, but you two might be able to identify things. We’ve had a neighborhood controversy lately about 2 large birds we see on our lake: some say they are golden eagles, others say they are juvenile balds. One neighbor sent photos but they aren’t as good as yours. Anyway, thanks for who you are!

    • Thanks, Diane. And we would be happy to receive images for an “Ask a Naturalist” type of thing, especially if we can share them with our readers for everyone to learn from. I’ll mention that in today’s post.

  4. Your post is, as always, informative and a visual treat. The frequency of your recent postings help me stay centered and to focus the beauty around me. 😊 Thank you!

  5. Melissa and Mike,
    ThAnks for doing and sending these. I always thought tent caterpillars would kill the tree if not removed!!
    I am sending the emails to my grandchildren who are
    Out of school in NC.
    Thanks again!!

  6. Wow, I don’t know what those are. I immediately though of some sort of gummosis, just because that happens this time of year, either in response to disease or boring insect. (Although, insects should not be so early.) To me, it looks like the larva of some sort of insect that was parasitized by another insect, such as a wasp. But, why are they all so close to the buds? The slight webbing sort of makes it look like the larva started to pupate but got distracted. Goodness, I don’t know.

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