A couple months ago I blogged about an unusual phenomenon occuring in the backyard: a pair of downy woodpeckers were systematically pecking away the bark on a young bur oak tree in the yard. I've been watching the tree this spring to see if it will leaf out like usual.
As I was walking about with the puppy this evening, I noticed a large number of small (approx. 1/8"), black flies or wasps on the still unopened leaf buds of the bur oak. I couldn't tell if they were laying eggs, eating sap, or doing something else entirely. It makes me wonder if I was witnessing the reason for the downy woodpeckers pecking so diligently at the bark of this tree over the winter. If so, they didn't begin to get the population under control.
I'm curious now to see if there are signs of problems when the tree finally does leaf out. Bur oaks are late "bloomers", so to speak, so I'm not surprised that the tree still looks dormant. (And I've been checking the bark; it still shows green underneath on the twigs.) I ought to collect a few of the insects and look them over under a loop to see if I can key them out to learn a little more (at least whether they are flies or wasps!). However, with all our furniture, miscellaneous bits and books still in storage, I have no supplies to follow through with this plan in the near future. So I guess I'll just let nature take its course, literally, and see what happens.
If anyone recognizes what I'm seeing, I would still welcome the knowledge.