This is not a new feature of Floyd County natural history, but it is one that has taken on a new importance, and I’ll tell the second part of that story here soon.
These are plant leaf “galls” that can take all sorts of forms, depending on the host plant and its response, and the egg-laying chemicals of the “donor” injections. In this particular pairing, the host is elm, the deposits made by a pregnant female mite.
If you cut open one of those red growths (and some of our small elms are heavy with them) you’ll find tiny mites (not the ones that give a flip about people’s hair follicles) living protected inside the plant-produced fortress.
It’s what happens when they mature that is the most economically relevant. And some will love what happens, some, not so much.