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UK Nature  > Galls  > Lime Nail Gall

Gall causer:   Eriophyes tiliae
Common Name:   Lime Nail-gall Mite

Eriophyes tiliae is a mite that forms the Lime Nail Gall. It develops in a chemically induced gall; an erect, oblique or curved distortion rising up from the upper surface of the leaves of the common lime tree, Tilia × europaea.

During late spring and summer, tubular growths up to 5 millimetres (0.20 in) long develop on the upper surface of lime tree leaves. These galls are yellow-green or red in color, may be very numerous, and predominantly occur on the lower leaves in some sub-species. The galls appear not to affect the health of the lime trees, and no way of controlling or preventing them exists.

The mites move onto the foliage in the spring, having overwintered in the bark crevices or around buds. These gall inducers are less than 0.2 mm long, however the chemicals they release while sucking the sap from the lower leaf epidermis have a dramatic, consistent and colourful effect, causing upward growing, hollow, yellow, red or pink, finger-like extensions. Before the autumn, the mites, which up to now have been actively feeding and growing inside the galls, depart from these shelters and seek protected sites elsewhere on the lime tree. The mites will pass the winter in such locations and then the cycle will be repeated.
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