Chartreuse green ball stung me, what does that?

Asked July 26, 2016, 8:31 PM EDT

While near ornamental shrubs, but curbside at a parking lot next to a Wadsworth Suite Hotel and golf course on Sat. morning about 7:15am I experienced sudden stinging on my ring finger. When I pulled my hand up from by my side instead of seeing a stinger in me, or nothing but the developing welt, what was stuck to my finger looked like bright light green plant material of a consistant color, no color variance at all. About 9mm round, didn't fall away on it's own. No identifiable insect parts, no color variation, just dull (not shiny) lumpy like a raspberry, but bright green ball. No movement at all to it. The stinging was coming right from that thing and similiar to a hornet sting. So I flicked it off with the back of my fingernail. I heard no bees buzzing. Saw no flying insects in the 5 min before or the 5 min after. I did hear birds up high in the nearly dead tree to the left and I was standing about where my car hood would be in the wide shot of the shrub. Pretend like I know nothing other than I have been stung by sweat bees in distant past, hornets about 5 x in last 5 yrs and wasps. I have many flying insects, bees, hornets and wasps at home 1/3 mile away from this hotel site and sit outside while they do there thing all around me. Makes more sense to me when I grab a hand full of some landscape and disturb hornets I get stung AND see the aggressor easily once disturbed. Standing curbside I saw a motionless ball on my finger while 10 feet from the shrub with me almost motionless.(standing in place). I am thinking that this may have been larva or pupa from urticating catterpillar maybe dropped by bird or blew over my way, but there wasn't much wind that day. Finger is red swollen and itchy 3.5 days later. My last hornet stings were to the inner forearn and inner upper arm and they did last about 5 days of discomfort, but I thought it was the more sensitive location. So does the shrub with yellow spots on leaves, green inner lumps with spikes in and around the "Round" central green which protrudes out away from the leaf on the underside of the leaves (of those central potions that remain intact) likely related at all to the sting I received by a green lump stuck to my finger. The shrub leaves showed tip and edge damage as well. And why was the lump stuck to me at all anyway. It appeared as dull dry plant material. Dry dry last 5 weeks no moisture here. Don't try to tell me it was a sweat bee balled up. Not only did it not look like it, it left a bigger welt and super quick, 10 sec the area was white and raised and pain was still increasing kept building in intensity, for 3 min or more after the thing was flicked. Help me make some sense of this, I just need some basics. In 59 an holding years and as outdoorsy as a woman gets without wanting to go on Naked and Afraid, a round blob stung me and stayed right there for me to see it taunting me. Please share your experiences and thoughts.

Lake County Illinois horticulture

1 Response

It appears that the object that stung you is a leaf gall. This is itself not an insect, but is distorted plant growth caused by an insect.

I have a tentative diagnosis of this pest: Spiny leaf gall, which is caused by a tiny, non-stinging wasp. While I could not find a picture in my books or on the internet that matched EXACTLY with your photos, I've found some that are fairly similar. Here is some information from my Field Guide to Plant Galls textbook:

Unlike many leaf galls, these can detach from the leaf. Depending on species, the galls can be wine-red, green, or yellow-green. When fresh, the spines are flexible, but as the galls age, they become stiff and brittle.

These galls are not known to be a serious problem to either the host plant or humans. It's possible that some of the brittle spines broke off under your skin. It's also possible that you may have an allergy to any material on the spines, or you could have gotten a secondary infection after being jabbed.

Here is a page with pictures of one of these types of galls: . Again, they don't look exactly like your photo, but that could be because they are a different but related species, or your galls were parasitized, or any of a number of other factors.

I hope this helps!